AFTER thousands of people had money taken from their bank accounts by the council in error, families have spoken of how they were left facing Christmas on a shoestring budget.

Council tax and business rate payments were taken by mistake from 5,700 accounts on December 23 by Stroud District Council, leaving families in limbo in the run-up to Christmas Day.

Mum-of-two Claire Pegler, 41, said she was left with no money from Christmas Eve until Thursday, December 29, when her wages were paid.

“I’m lucky I had finished shopping and had food in but I’m sure others weren’t so lucky,” said Mrs Pegler, from Middle Tynings, Nailsworth.

“It has meant that I’ve not been able to take my children out as I would have liked to over the Christmas period.”

A second payment was shown as pending but the money did not leave her account.

She said she has now cancelled her direct debit and will pay by an alternative method.

Geoff Potter, from Nailsworth, had £149 taken from his account on Christmas Eve, seven days before it was due to go out.

He was left with ‘very little money’ and had to use a credit card to cover any Christmas costs.

“I said a senior manager should be recalled to work but to no avail,” said Mr Potter, 57, a supply teacher.

“My account was not re-credited until December 27.

“As I am not paid until the end of the month I had to use my expensive credit card to fund Christmas celebrations. There will have been people who went to withdraw cash and found that they had no money because of this.”

Conservative councillors have asked for an inquiry to find out why the error happened.

Cllr Nigel Cooper, (Con, Painswick and Upton) leader of the group, said: “It is not only about why this happened or how it happened, but the impact it has had on people over Christmas and New Year.”

He added: “We need to stop this total close-down between Christmas and New Year so that when emergencies like this occur, there is a point of contact, rather than letting people worry during what should be a happy time of year.”

A SDC spokesman said: “Unfortunately, on Friday December 23, due to an error on our part, we took payments early from over 5,700 bank accounts. These payments were originally scheduled for December 28. We identified the same was due to happen to a number of accounts the following week and made provision to pay the same amount of money into those accounts before it was taken out, to ensure those residents were not inconvenienced, but it looks like this may not have worked for around 1,700 accounts. We have, however, managed to credit those accounts today (January 3).

“This should now mean that everything is back to normal, however some people may have had bank charges applied to their accounts if they became overdrawn due to our mistake. We apologise to anyone who has been inconvenienced and would like to reassure them that we will refund any bank charges . We will be writing to all of them over the next few days to ensure they are not out of pocket. Additionally, a number of residents have contacted us worried that we had taken their council tax payments three times, however we would ask them to check their statements carefully as one of the entries should be a credit to offset the direct debit which was taken at the wrong time, whilst the third will be their normal direct debit.”

Anyone who has incurred bank charges due to their direct debit for council tax being taken earlier than scheduled should email with their details and copies of bank statements or correspondence from their bank or building society regarding the charges.

These can also be posted to:

Council Tax

Stroud District Council

Ebley Mill

Ebley Wharf



You can also call 01453 766321, however copies of statements will be required, so emailing or posting statement copies in the first instance with a covering note will speed up any refund process..