Council tax rebates and unappetising takeaways

Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I’ve been told that as I have another person living with me I may be able to claim a reduction in my council tax. Is this correct and how do I apply?

KW (email)

A If you are on a low income and have limited savings you may be able to claim for a second adult council tax rebate for anyone who lives with you. You can still claim whether the second person pays you rent or only contributes to food, heating or lighting.

If you were previously living alone, and someone moves in with you, you will of course lose the 25 per cent single occupant discount.

You can claim the second adult rebate by filling in the details required on form HCTB1, obtainable from your local council housing department.

The bad news is that the form is 40 pages long. The good news is that to claim the second adult rebate you only need to fill in six parts of the 17 part form. If you have difficulty filling it in, contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau for help with it.

You will need to provide proof of low income, and residence.

Q I paid almost £25 for a family meal from a Chinese takeaway. It didn’t look very appetising, and when we tasted it we decided it wasn’t edible and dumped it in the bin. We did try complaining, but the takeaway was very dismissive. Who do we complain to if this should happen again?

JN (internet)

A It may come as a complete surprise, but food is treated in exactly the same way as goods from the law’s point of view. It has to be of satisfactory quality, and fit to eat. If it doesn’t meet these quality standards you are entitled to a replacement meal, or your money back.

That’s the easy bit.

Proving pre-prepared takeaway food isn’t sufficiently appetising can be quite a different matter.

It’s all about differences in taste. What might be unacceptable to you, may be perfectly acceptable to someone else’s taste buds.

But taste is a highly subjective matter and is not likely to be sufficient grounds to claim a refund.

Local council environmental health officers have extensive powers to inspect premises where food is prepared in dirty unhygienic conditions, that could pose serious harm to health.

It seems possible that this scenario might apply to your complaint, although you didn’t say whether anyone became ill after tasting the food.

Either way we’ll never know because, by your own admission, you’ve binned the evidence.

If it happens again, you should pop a sample into a clean food or freezer bag and take it to an environmental health officer for detailed scientific examination. If you can’t get it to the town hall quickly, make sure you keep the sample in the fridge.

Depending on the lab report, environmental health inspectors can close food premises down or order a clean-up of the kitchen if it turns out the takeaway owners are not complying with public health regulations.

SMALL PRINT

Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at richardjthomson1@sky.com and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.