Taxpayers are being invited to appeal if they feel they have been charged unfairly for the new sewerage charge.
The charge, commonly known as the ‘toilet tax’, and which even Chief Minister Allan Bell has described as ‘unfair’, has caused more controversy in Peel after it was revealed that properties opposite each other, just metres apart, will be charged different amounts, £50 and £1.
The Westlands complex in Peel, which specialises in accommodation for elderly people, has self-contained flats on one side of the road and bungalows on the other.
Peel and Western District Housing Committee wrote to Manx Utilities asking for a reduction in the charge for the elderly residents of both.
Manx Utilities replied saying that the bungalows ‘did not meet the required criteria set by Manx Utilities for joint assessment and as such would attract an individual charge of £50 per property this year’.
However, just across the road, there are self-contained flats. Referring to these, the letter stated: ‘These properties did meet the criteria and as a result only one charge of £50 will be needed for Phase 1 (25 units) and one charge of £50 will be needed for Phases 2 and 3 (42 units).’
This means that pensioners living in the bungalows will have to pay the £50 charge whilst the 67 households in the self-contained flats will pay their charge collectively, which will be between £1 and £2 each.
Asked why there was such a difference a Manx Utilities spokesperson told iomtoday that because one set of residents lived in flats they got the reduced charge.
The spokesperson said: ‘Anyone can get in touch to be assessed. The charges are billed using the rate demands database. If anyone feels unfairly treated what they need to do is contact our customer support team to be individually assessed.
‘The team are there to help and we realise that this is a very sensitive topic.
‘While introducing the £50 per property sewage charge for 2014/15 Manx Utilities have been undertaking reviews via the Sewage Charge Appeals Process.
‘This process ensures that sheltered/retirement housing and charitable associations, who have multiple flats/apartments within a complex, are asssessed as a single entity; thereby assisting those more vulnerable within the community.’
When asked why the residents in the bungalows were not considered ‘vulnerable’, the spokesperson said: ‘We can’t discuss individual cases but what they need to do is call customer support and ask to be individually assessed.’
The £50 charge was brought in by the government on April 1 and is set to rise next year.
Its introduction prompted outrage in Peel especially, with more than 100 residents attending a requisition meeting.
Many feel that as Peel’s sewage is pumped out into the sea untreated that there should be no charge in the town.
To contact Manx Utilities customer support team call 687687, option 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org