Council tax-delinquent politician cites expense of living crisis 2023

A local legislator who owes over £1,000 in council tax blamed the cost of living problem, calling debt “the norm.” James Fish, newly elected Tyldesley and Mosley Common councillor, owes Wigan town hall £1,237.

“Not everyone can afford immediate bills,” said the Independent Network ward representative, who won a seat in the borough’s all-out elections in May. “Residents ask about arrears, and I say I have the same issues.”

The last payment Coun Fish made was on October 15, 2022, according to an LDRS Freedom of Information request. He has fallen behind on payments in recent years, but he promises to catch up later this year.

He said a payment plan will settle his debt by October 2023. “This is because there is a cost of living crisis, but it needs to be paid in the 12-month period,” Coun Fish added. “We have a strategy to pay this.

Arrears are due after six months. This October, it will be paid. Due to historical accumulation. Most of that money is old.

“Nothing is hidden when you run for office.”

Wigan council received a FOI request from the LDRS for local politicians who owed council tax. Only Coun Fish was listed.

“Obviously, certain bills take priority,” he continued. Due to the cost of living problem, every cent counts.

“It can increase [historic debt]. Residents ask about arrears, and I advise them to describe the matter to the council.

“Everyone has the same problem. Since the election, roughly 10 residents have contacted me regarding council tax bills.

“Those individuals just want to confess they’re suffering. Debt was shameful in the 1980s and 1990s, but now it’s normal.

Many people must choose between paying their mortgage, bills, or council tax. This demonstrates I’m in touch with reality and understand Wiganers’ struggles.”

Wiganers had a 4.99% council tax increase in March. The council majority approved the tax rise to prevent employment and service losses, according to managers.

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