Evidence has emerged that councils are now demanding that they are given powers of entry inside people’s homes as a condition of granting that discount. The Government’s council tax ‘best practice’ guide explicitly encourages councils to undertake ‘spot check’ internal inspections of properties, giving practical tips how to "maximise their time spent on inspections".
This opens the prospect of town hall officials barging inside people’s homes to look for a hidden partner. This would inevitably include checking people’s bedrooms for evidence, asking questions about the sleeping habits of any girlfriend or boyfriend – and even inspecting the underwear drawer.
In response, Bob Neill, Shadow Minister for Local Government, has warned local authorities to be proportionate in their use of town hall surveillance powers.
He said: "Councils need to do more to tackle town hall fraud, but this is not a green light for intrusive inspections of people’s underwear drawers. Sensible use of data matching can help identify people fiddling benefits.
Laws supposed to tackle terror and serious crime have resulted in an unjustified extension of snooping by local authorities. Conflicting and confusing messages are still being given out by the arms of government about the proportionate use of state powers."
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