Council tax refusenik in court a third time

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Magistrates Court

June Farrow, a 74 year old retired nurse from Bawburgh, Norwich, has been taken to court for the third time by South Norfolk District Council, for failing to pay her council tax. Farrow is making a stand against the tax, and paying £25 a month rather than £85 in protest at the rules.



Protest

Farrow has been a widow for nine years, and is incensed at the rule which means she only gets a 25% discount for being a single person living alone, which means she pays more than each individual has to pay in a shared house.

This is her third time in court. In 2011 her bill was paid by a third party after her story hit the headlines. In 2012 she had a liability order issued against her in court for an outstanding bill of £554 after she only paid part of the bill for fourth months, and this year she has had an order issued for £998.

She says she doesn't have the money to pay and told the Daily Mail she had already sold her engagement and wedding rings to pay the bills. In 2011 Farrow told the BBC that it was pointless sending the bailiffs round because there was nothing of any value in the property - except her dog. In 2012 she has said she would be happy to go to jail for non-payment, because at least then she would eat better than the cheap food she was able to afford.

After this court appearance, the council opted not to seek a prison sentence, or to collect the money now. The council is working with Farrow to seek a resolution.

Farrow told the Daily Mail: "This is a victory. I feel happy that I have made a point for pensioners who are frightened, depressed and know that the system is unfair."

Your rights

So is this fair? The rules are clearly inequitable, but the magistrates have no choice, as they are following the rules.

Farrow does have other options. She has savings of more than £16,000, so does not qualify for council tax benefit. She has refused to dip into this, as she says she has put that money aside to maintain her property during her lifetime. However, if she did so, the savings would eventually reduce down below £16,000 and she would qualify for assistance.

Her argument is that she shouldn't have to end up claiming benefits purely because she has been forced to pay a tax she thinks isn't fair. But what do you think?

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