Leader comment: Conmen exploit badly thought-out garden tax

The council is to charge an annual fee of �25 to collect garden waste
The council is to charge an annual fee of �25 to collect garden waste
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It’s bad enough people are having to pay the new garden tax, but now comes the news that vulnerable, elderly residents are being targeted by conmen asking them to pay the £25 charge over the phone.

While the city council cannot be direcly blamed for the actions of criminals, it clearly failed to think through the potential consequences of setting up an online-only payment system.

The trouble with creating any new charge is the need to create a bureaucracy to administer collection and enforcement, which costs money and reduces the amount available to spend on services. So online-only payment may have initially seemed like a good idea.

READ MORE: Robert Aldridge: Council stealth taxes are like Ryanair’s add-ons

But, with nearly half of over-75s and more than a third of 65-74-year-old not online, it was obvious this would only cause stress and worry to pensioners – and create a situation that could be exploited by the unscrupulous.

Not only is this frightening for any elderly people tricked into handing over their bank details, it is fundamentally unjust.

The city council must now issue clear and unambigous information to residents as to how they can pay the charge if they do not have access to the internet.

And it might be an idea to issue an apology for the distress that has already been caused.

READ MORE: John McLellan: Internet-only ‘garden tax’ is unfair to elderly