Apologies for Ashley Court fire survivor asked to pay double council tax

A fire broke out at Ashley Court in Hatfield. Picture: Alan Davies

The fire broke out at Ashley Court in December - Credit: Archant

A survivor of a Hatfield sheltered housing block blaze was told to pay double council tax, but the decision has since been reversed. 

Since moving out of a temporary hotel after the devastating fire near Wellfield Road, 79-year-old Jennifer has moved to be near Bedford close to her family. 

But after alerting the council to the move, her daughter-in-law Karen was told by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council that her mother-in-law was no longer entitled to a single person council tax discount. 

Alongside this, Jennifer was asked to pay council tax on both Ashley Court, while it is repaired, and on the elderly housing accommodation near Bedford.

"It just seems to be mean doesn't it?" Karen told the WHT, before the council reversed their decision. "They don't need all this angst.

"They used my information I gave them to write to her and tell her she's lost her discount for a single person as she is no longer living at Ashley Court."

A WHBC spokesperson said, after being alerted by the WHT, “The fire-damaged properties at Ashley Court are exempt from council tax and we apologise to [Jennifer] and her family for causing any undue concern.

“Should residents have further queries about their exemption, our team would be happy to help on 01707 357000.”

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Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has certain requirements for an exemption and typically empty properties requiring major repair work to render them habitable or undergoing structural alterations do not entitle residents to a reduction.

A second home also has to pay council tax if it is a furnished property that is no one's sole or main residence.

A total of 12 fire engines attended the blaze at the sheltered accommodation in December, which was thought to have started in the laundry room. Investigations by the fire service are believed to be ongoing. 

Some residents have also been told it could take 12 months before they are back at Ashley Court as the roof needs to be repaired. 

For more on council tax please see here welhat.gov.uk/discounts-and-exemptions.