A MOTHER forced to move out of her home after it was destroyed by fire has been ordered to pay council tax twice.

Andrea Thomas, 40, her two children aged eight and 13 and their pet dog, fled their home in Canvey Road, Canvey, when a fire broke out next door on June 15.

Miss Thomas, a care worker in a dementia home, is living in temporary accommodation in Chapman Road while repairs are carried out after the fire caused serious damage to her property.

But Castle Point Council has told her she must pay council tax on both properties.

The mum is also making mortgage payments and is expected to stay in rented accommodation for the foreseeable future.

Miss Thomas said: “It’s horrendous.

I can pay it all, but only just.

“Everything is going on bills and the bare necessities to keep us going along.

“I’m paying about £250 on council tax for both properties and it doesn’t seem fair.

“I’m trying to save as much as I can to spread out the cost, but it’s really difficult.

“I can claim it back at some point, but that doesn’t help me now.”

Insurers are paying rent at the temporary accommodation, but they are not paying council tax for either property. The council tax for the band E property Miss Thomas has moved into is more expensive than her bandChome in Canvey Road – leaving her with mounting bills.

David Marchant, chief executive of Castle Point Council, said: “We are sympathetic to the situation residents are facing as a result of the recent severe flooding which affected Canvey Island and parts of the mainland.

“It is the case that council tax will become payable after 28 days on homes damaged by floods or fire even though empty, and that council tax is payable on temporary accommodation.

“We are advising residents that payment of the council tax on their damaged homes should form part of their insurance claim, but that we would reconsider the position on an individual basis if there are any difficulties regarding this."

AN INVESTIGATION was launched into the fire which left the family homeless.

Firefighters were called to Canvey Road just before 4am on Sunday, June 15, after a blaze broke out and destroyed the semi-detached house.

The property was empty at the time and emergency services were only called when Miss Thomas, from next door saw the flames coming from the roof.

The fire engulfed the top floor of her neighbour’s house and caused structural damage to Miss Thomas’ roof as well as damaging clothes and belongings.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “The investigation was inconclusive.

An accident or it being deliberate are both possibilities.”

FAMILIES forced out of their homes because of flooding are also being asked to pay council tax on two properties.

Daniel Thipthorpe, 40, and his wife and two children were forced to move out of their home on Canvey following the floods.

The family’s three-bedroom home became uninhabitable and has no electricity after the floods on Sunday June 20, and plan to live in their temporary home for six months while repairs continue.

The taxi driver was told by Castle Point Council he will have to pay council tax on both properties from September, after a relief period of one month. The council also said it will reconsider if the tax cannot be claimed on insurance.

THE leader of the Canvey Island Independent Party is calling for Castle Point Council to help families in an emergency.

Dave Blackwell, councillor for Canvey Island Central, said: “I think it’s awful people have to be charged at times like this. Castle Point Council should be helping them out.

“People are living in hotels and rented accommodation and insurers do help out, but not always.

“As long as they can prove they are not living in the property, the council should give them relief not to pay council tax.

“The council should be doing something more. It needs to take a step in the right direction and show it’s commitment to people and want to help them as much as they can.”