Scottish Borders Council’s tax letter blasted a “disgrace” by pensioner

Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells.

Scottish Borders Council has been accused of using threatening language in its correspondence with residents this week.

One Galashiels pensioner said he was left feeling “incandescent” after receiving a letter from the local authority asking he prove that he still qualifies for a sole occupancy discount on his council tax.

Jim Alcorn, 70, believes the tone and language used in the letter is “disgusting.”

“The letter is basically threat, threat, threat,” he said. “It was all underline, bold type and just felt very threatening.

“It’s a disgusting, crude letter and I think it’s a disgraceful document to come from a local council.

“I was left incandescent. One would expect a polite reminder, but this is a disgraceful document, and certainly not subtle.”

Scottish Borders Council said it used the annual council tax bill as an opportunity to issue an insert asking people to renew their entitlement to single occupancy discount online.

A spokesman said: “The notice was in no way meant to be threatening, but was designed to ensure a significant response avoiding the requirement for further reminders to be issued.

“We would urge anyone who is concerned, or requires assistance to contact the customer advice and support service by calling 0300 100 1800 or via their local contact centre.”

Mr Alcorn, however, also claimed the helpline number he was told to call before March 30 did not work for three days.

But the local authority says that could have been down to the sheer demand for the helpline service.

The spokesman added: “As the council tax was not set until February 28, and to ensure council tax payers are given enough notice of their payments for the new year, the bills had to be issued over a few days. Ideally we would have liked to have issued them over a longer period of time, but this was not possible given the statutory timescales we need to adhere to.

“This resulted in unprecedented levels of calls to our call centre which we did support with additional resources.”