Southwark Council Should Freeze Council Tax and Repay £1m it Owes Residents in Overpaid Council Tax

Southwark Council owes residents £1.38m in overpaid council tax, the Liberal Democrats revealed on Thursday.

The Southwark Liberal Democrats subsequently called for the council to investigate how to boost efforts to return this money to residents due to the cost-of-living emergency.

Money Saving Expert in early July urged households to check if they had overpaid council tax.

Their research showed English, Scottish and Welsh residents could claim back a total of over £150m in overpaid council tax.

Labour-run Southwark Council declined, at the time, to respond to freedom of information requests from Money Saving Expert.

However, Southwark Liberal Democrat internal correspondence in early July discovered that the authority had £1.38m in overpaid council tax.

This amount of overpaid council tax would make it the 9th highest London authority in terms of how much it owed, based on Money Saving Expert research.

Although, the latest Money Saving Expert figures were from February 2022. 

At the July council assembly, the Southwark Liberal Democrats submitted an amendment that proposed radical policies for dealing with the cost-of-living emergency including committing to freezing council tax.

Another suggested policy was to create a programme, or to boost efforts, to pro-actively contact residents regarding returning council tax overpayments.

However, Labour members voted down the whole amendment at the assembly.

Commenting, Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Southwark Liberal Democrat Group Leader said:

“Our residents are facing incredible financial pressures due to the cost-of-living emergency. The council needs to use every mechanism it has to help residents through it. It is why we called for a commitment to a council tax freeze. Our amendment at council assembly showed we believe Labour is not exploring all innovative solutions to get us through this. Labour councillors should be ashamed that they voted down real help for residents right now for political reasons. We want them to reconsider looking at how we can better handle overpaid council tax during this emergency”