Furious Londoners couldn’t get housing help after council missed ‘£5 website bill’

Furious Londoners couldn’t get housing help after council missed ‘£5 website bill’

Londoners were left unable to log on and claim social housing or pay tax bills because their council failed to pay a £5 website bill.

Much of the Tower Hamlets Council website was offline on January 4 and 5 and it prevented people from accessing many essential services.

Residents could not use online forms to pay schools tax, apply for social housing or many other services.

It also meant they could not access public consultations on projects in Tower Hamlets or use the council’s online schools section.

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The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands the problem was caused by the council failing to pay the subscription fee for its website domain – which cost just £5.

It is not clear why the fee to keep essential services online for residents was not paid by the council.

The council’s Conservative opposition was critical of the website going offline.

Conservative councillor Peter Golds said: “Residents will be astonished to learn that the council website was down because a simple £5 fee was not paid. What on earth was going on?”

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Problems with the website caused a number of problems – including emails sent to council addresses not being received, with many people not knowing if their mail had gone through.

After the website was back online, the council recommended that residents resend their emails to make sure they had been received.

Tower Hamlets residents vented on social media after the council’s website crashed.

One said: “Not sure if they paid their bill but I am not paying mine [council tax bill] until they fix the site.”

Another posted: “I bet someone forgot to renew the hosting fee! Great way to avoid reporting of uncollected rubbish.”

One local was even more critical, saying: “Sounds like a normal day at Tower Hamlets. When was anything or anyone working there?”

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “The issue was caused as a result of an administrative error, which has now been rectified and therefore is unlikely to recur again in the future.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this has caused to residents and we will ensure that there is no detriment to residents who were unable to use our website when it was inaccessible.”

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