A blin pensioner has hit out at Kirklees Council after being sent a letter about his council tax which threatened a £70 penalty if he didn’t respond.
Walter Young had to ask a neighbour to read him the letter which asked if his circumstances had changed since he started receiving single person allowance on his council tax.
He has received the discount since the death of his wife, Sally, two years ago.
There was no phone number to ring and instead he was told to fill in details online via a computer or smartphone or to use a public access computer at a library or a self service machine at a council customer services centre.
The letter gave him 21 days to respond and if he didn’t the council said it would cancel the single person discount and issue a £70 penalty which would be added to his council tax bill.
Mr Young, 76, of Meltham, is registered blind and is chairman of the Colne, Holme and Dearne Valley Society for the Blind.
He said he was fortunate in knowing who to contact at the council, having been vice chairman of Meltham Town Council a few years ago.
“I was able to quickly sort it out as I knew what to do.
“But they are assuming everyone has a computer and is wise about the internet, or that they would be able to go out.
“There are many elderly and disabled people who are unable to do that. Many who live on their own can go several days without seeing anyone, and many are not on the internet and haven’t got computers.
“Kirklees Council is disregarding the wishes and well being of elderly and disabled people.”
A council spokesman said: “It’s important that we review the single person discount and ensure that people are paying the right amount of council tax.
“There are currently over 180,000 council tax accounts in Kirklees with single person discount applying to over a third of them.
“We do encourage customers to use online methods as this is the most efficient and cost-effective way to manage a wide range of processes.
“Our approach is very successful and we know that 99.7% of benefits forms are completed online.
“At the same time, we always recognise that some people may struggle with an online process.
“When this happens, help and advice is available or they can write to the postal address we provide.
“We also have different ways of contacting people when we know they are blind or partially sighted.
“Unfortunately we had not been aware that this gentleman is blind, but we have now updated our records.”