‘Shocked’ woman hits out af­ter coun­cil staff thought some­one else’s obit­u­ary no­tice was hers:

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Eryl Crump

THE fam­ily of a sick woman got a let­ter say­ing her ben­e­fits would be stopped be­cause she was dead, af­ter coun­cil chiefs thought she was the per­son whose obit­u­ary they had read.

Mair Jones re­ceived the no­tice – ad­dressed to her ex­ecu­tors – that the coun­cil tax re­duc­tion on her Caernar­fon flat, and other en­ti­tle­ments, would be cut as she had passed away.

But Mrs Jones was alive and feel­ing much bet­ter – re­cov­er­ing from can­cer, chemo­ther­apy and ra­dio­ther­apy treat­ment. And, to make mat­ters worse, it hap­pened again.

The rea­son for the mis­take was that coun­cil staff scoured the death no­tices in our sis­ter pa­per the Daily Post for po­ten­tial coun­cil tax­pay­ers who had passed away.

Mrs Jones said the let­ter had af­fected her re­cov­ery and caused dis­tress to her fam­ily.

The mum of two, and gran of four, said she was shocked to re­ceive the let­ter, which re­lated to an­other woman who had lived in the same block of flats.

“But her name is noth­ing like mine,” Mrs Jones added.

The let­ter from Gwynedd coun­cil‘s ben­e­fits ser­vice was ad­dressed to the “ex­ecu­tors of her es­tate”.

“I’ve not been well and this let­ter came as a shock. I called the coun­cil straight away,” she said.

De­spite as­sur­ances from coun­cil of­fi­cials the let­ter was a mis­take and she should ig­nore it, a fur­ther let­ter ar­rived the fol­low­ing day.

“That was ad­dressed to the ex­ecu­tors too and it be­gan ‘please ac­cept my sin­cere apolo­gies of your re­cent loss.’

“There was a form that had to be filled in en­closed with it. I looked at it and wrote on it “This is a dis­grace. I’m still alive.”

“I went to see the coun­cil and even­tu­ally got to speak to a man­ager on the phone.

“He was very apolo­getic and ex­plained to me they mon­i­tor the Daily Post. But they should make dou­bly sure they get the right per­son.

“Why didn’t they con­tact my sons first, or check with CCG who own the flat,” she said.

In a let­ter apol­o­gis­ing, Tax­a­tion Man­ager Bled­dyn Jones says: “We mon­i­tor the Daily Post news­pa­per on­line daily to try to iden­tify lo­cal coun­cil tax­pay­ers who have passed away so that their rel­a­tives do not re­ceive coun­cil tax bills or fur­ther cor­re­spon­dence from us re­quest­ing pay­ment or at­tempt­ing to ad­dress the per­son who has passed away. We fully ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for our er­ror in mis­tak­enly iden­ti­fy­ing you from the news­pa­per ar­ti­cle.

“I have spo­ken at length with the per­son re­spon­si­ble for the er­ror and ex­plained to them how up­set you were. They also ex­tend their per­sonal apol­ogy to you.

“We have con­sid­ered how we can tighten up our pro­cesses and will be im­ple­ment­ing a few changes to try and re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent for an­other tax­payer.”

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