Southwark Council is sitting on £877,676 of overpaid council tax because residents failed to ask for it

By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter

Southwark Council is sitting on £877,676 of your overpaid council tax because owed residents have failed to ask for it.

There are 2,794 overpaid council tax accounts in the borough – a Freedom of Information request from the Local Democracy Reporting Service showed.

The council said the overpayments relate to customers leaving a property and not requesting a refund, despite being told their account is in credit.

The local authority said it contacts people via letter to tell them they have overpaid.

Southwark holds the money, so residents can claim the money at any time, and has urged people to check their accounts. Residents could be owed hundreds of pounds.

Some of the total figure may also relate to payments that are waiting to be allocated to accounts.

Councillor Rebecca Lury, cabinet member for finance at Southwark Council, said: “All residents who vacate a property with credit on their council tax balance are contacted by us via letter, advising them to submit a claim so we can make a full refund as quickly as possible, including relevant checks to prevent fraud.

“Last year, we refunded over £2.5 million upon request from residents.

“All remaining overpaid council tax, which represents only 0.6 per cent of the net council tax we received last year, is held on account and residents may claim a refund of the overpaid amount at any time.

“It’s helpful to understand the life cycle of these transactions, which are common across all councils.

“In Southwark, many are still current as they have been made in the past year and some offset debt on other accounts.

“Other payments are waiting to be allocated to accounts, but have been submitted with incorrect or missing information.

“We have a relatively transient population in Southwark meaning many changes to accounts.

“We encourage residents to log into MySouthwark to track and monitor their accounts closely, keep their information up-to-date, and access the different financial support that we offer.

“This includes our Southwark emergency support scheme which has supported 4,772 families and individuals since the pandemic.”

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