Haddington residents shocked to find council tax bands changed after investigation into 'inconsistencies'

Hundreds of homeowners in an East Lothian town have had their council tax band changed after an investigation into ‘inconsistencies’ between neighbouring houses.

Some of the houses which have been moved had been on the same band for more than 30 years.

Residents in Haddington were shocked to receive letters from Lothian Joint Valuation Board (LJVB), which sets band levels, last week saying they were being moved – with the majority going up at least one band.

One resident said he though the letter was a scam when it arrived.

Haddington residents have been shocked to find their council tax bands have changed

He said: “I’ve been a Band C since 1991, now I’m being told it should have been a Band D and my council tax will go up from next month.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

Assessor for the LJVB Gary Elliott said in total 127 houses in Haddington have been moved up a band, with 79 moved down after it was discovered they had been paying too much council tax.

East Lothian Council has said no refunds will be given to homeowners who are moved down a band just as no backdated payments will be sought from those moving up.

Mr Elliott said the review of houses in Haddington was sparked after a number of appeals lodged by council tax payers in the town against their bandings raised concerns.

He said: “After discussions with appellants, and a subsequent hearing of these appeals before the Local Valuation Appeal Committee, it became clear that there may have been inconsistencies in the bandings of a number of broadly similar properties within Haddington.

“Following a thorough investigation it did transpire that this was in fact the case and has led to the bandings of 127 properties being increased and 79 being reduced.

“Decisions to amend bands are not taken lightly but where inconsistencies are found and a banding is clearly incorrect it is the correct thing to do, not least to ensure all council tax payers are treated equitably.

“Bandings of properties within the Lothians are only reviewed where it is brought to my attention that there may be inconsistencies, or an obvious error, in the banding of a property.

“All the council tax payers affected have been notified of these changes in writing and valuation notices are in the process of being issued.

“Any council tax payer affected by these changes does have a right of appeal against the amended band. Details of how to lodge a proposal/appeal can be found on their new valuation notice should they wish to do so.”

One female residents living in the town said news she had been paying the wrong council tax came as a surprise.

She said: “I was told I should be a Band E which is more than £500 more a year and at first was worried they were going to try and charge me for 30 years after they said I should have been in it for decades.

“I’m relieved that is not the case but still angry that at a time when everyone is struggling with costs, they decide to do this now.”

Current council tax charges in East Lothian are Band A – £1,213.42; Band B – £1,415.66; Band C – £1,617.90; Band D – £1,820.13; Band E £2,347.60; Band F – £2, 871.33; Band G – £3, 424.89; Band H – £4,244.03

East Lothian Council said the change date for properties affected was August 1 and stressed the decision to change bands was made by the LVJB who are independent of the local authority.

A spokesperson said: “The council will update council tax accounts from that date and will re-bill with instalments re-profiled, as required.

“No backdating or refunds of overpayments will be required in those circumstances.”