Hackney blames a cyber-attack for not issuing council tax refund | Money

Can you please ask Hackney council to pay the £1,071 in council tax it owes me? It claims it can’t because it faced a big cyber-attack more than seven months ago.

I moved out of the borough in August 2020 filled in the required form to let it know that I would no longer be paying council tax. I received an email receipt assumed my direct debits would be cancelled. However, in early May, I discovered it was still taking £119 from my account each month.

I was told that, due to the cyber-attack in October 2020, the refund could not be processed. It advised me to cancel my direct debit but still couldn’t say when it would be able to issue the refund.

A friend in the same boat has been given the same excuse. I know councils are underfunded but how long do I have to wait?

HB, London

This cyber-attack has caused mayhem for the council led to a number of house sales falling through after staff were unable to process lsearch requests. Many other council departments suffered problems.

The council says staff have been working tirelessly to resolve the problems keep services going, that a “small number of bills” – yours included – were generated incorrectly because of a “system error” caused by the attack. It warned it will be a further six months before all the services are fully restored.

“We have worked with our suppliers to restore our council tax system, teams are carrying out the work needed to process the updates from residents that have been received while the system was unavailable. We are prioritising the most urgent cases, which includes refunding HB,” it says.

I would advise others in your situation to use the direct debit guarantee. This allows users to ask their bank to refund payments taken in error, on a no-quibble basis.

Anyone who has moved from the borough should check their recent bank statements, stop direct debits on departure.

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