‘We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused’ – Council tax blunder leaves East Devon residents out of pocket before Christmas

A Christmas council tax blunder has landed scores of East Devon residents out of pocket and in the red because a payment ‘glitch’ has taken funds from accounts too early.

East Devon District Council on Friday (December 22) apologised for taking the funds five days ahead of the normal payment date – pushing some residents into debt and facing bank charges.

The district council said it would look to reimburse any bank charges for residents unable to stop the early payment with their bank.

EDDC blamed the mistake on its payment processing system, admitting some council tax direct debit payments for December 27 had been taken from accounts on December 22.

An EDDC spokesman said: “On Friday, 22 December, a technical glitch occurred in our payment processing system, causing some residents to experience an early debit of their council tax payment.

“The normal date for payments – the 25th of the month – should have meant the 27th December was the date banks would have taken payment.

“We understand the financial impact this may have on households, especially at this time of year and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

The spokesman added: “Where the payment has been made by a resident’s bank and the loss of funds causes hardship, residents should contact their bank and ask for the payment to be reversed under the direct debit indemnity, EDDC will then make contact with residents in the new year to arrange for payment of the instalment.

“For residents who do not have enough money in their account to cover the payment. EDDC, suggests they contact their bank and ask them to stop and/or reverse the transaction. If the banks do this the funds should appear back in their account on the same day, and they should avoid any fees.

“If it is too late to contact the bank and fees are incurred due to this error, residents are asked to provide evidence of the fees incurred and email these and the council tax team will look to recompense the fees incurred.

“For those who experience financial difficulties from this error, our financial resilience team will be dealing with emergency requests on the mornings of the 27 and 29 December.”

EDDC said: “The council wants to assure residents that steps are being taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and East Devon District Council remains committed to helping anyone affected by this error.”

If you have received bank charges, email counciltax@eastdevon.gov.uk or see here.

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