Text appearing on both Facebook and Twitter claims that Enfield council told an elderly resident who was receiving a 25% council tax discount that this would be removed if he refused to house a Ukrainian family in his spare bedroom.
The post says: “MyElderly [sic] cousin who is 77 years old lives alone in London [sic] Borough of Enfield! He has two bedrooms and receives a 25% discount for a single persons [sic] allowance. He has received a call from Enfield Borough Council asking him to take in a Ukrainian family. He has said he doesn't want to. They have said do you realise we can force you to do it. He said if you force me to share my I would rather burn it down [sic]. He has worked all his life to pay for a small two bedroom house which sometimes the odd family member stays in the spare bedroom as he is elderly. They said if you do not like what we are saying as he Expressed his views they said we can take your 25% allowance away from you.”
The post ends by warning: “They will be coming for your homes if you own them very soon!”
We have found no evidence that this happened. Councils cannot force residents in private or rented accommodation to take in refugees, or take away a resident’s single occupancy council tax discount if they refuse.
A spokesperson for Enfield Council told Full Fact: “Enfield Council has not discussed the housing of Ukrainian refugees with any residents, charities or community groups in the borough as we are awaiting further guidance from government before supporting this initiative.”
They added: “To the best of our knowledge, the allegations made in the post in question are untrue. There are certain processes Enfield Council has to abide by and we cannot simply refuse to apply a single person discount for Council Tax.
“In addition we cannot and would not force residents – whether they own their home or rent them – to take in third parties under any circumstances.
“If you think that someone you know is being taken advantage of report it to the Enfield adult abuse line on 020 8379 5212.”
The government is running a sponsorship scheme where people in the UK with a spare room or home can volunteer to host someone coming from Ukraine. Under this scheme, sponsors cannot charge rent but will be offered an “optional ‘thank you’ payment” of £350 a month.
But the scheme is completely voluntary. There’s no evidence that people are being forced to register, or could lose their single occupant council tax discount if they don’t sign up.
In fact, the government specifies: “Council tax discounts will not be affected if you sponsor and host a Ukrainian household in your home” and that the £350 payment won’t affect any council tax discounts.
The only reason a single occupant council tax discount can be removed is if you no longer qualify, for example someone in your household who was previously disregarded no longer falls under the category, or if someone else moves in.
Photo courtesy of David Sinclair via Unsplash.