Stoke-on-Trent Benefit Manager Resigns over Unpaid Council Tax

The Sentinel recently reported that interim benefit manager at Stoke City Council, Arlene Cowan, was under investigation for unpaid Council Tax. She apparently owes money to two councils in London, and recovery procedures got as far as arrest warrants being issued. It appears that Stoke were unaware of this when she was appointed. Well well.

I will declare an interest here. I had some dealings with this person when I worked there and disliked her. I have now heard that she has left her job at Stoke. This all seems rather too quick and easy to me. I would have expected her to have been suspended while the allegations were investigated, and had they been confirmed, to have possibly faced dismissal or other disciplinary action. That is what would have happened to any “normal” employee, especially a non-manager. I say this as I have long believed that managers can get away with far more, a different rule seems to apply to them. I have heard of several cases over the years of managers being accused of something and doing a deal to leave quietly in return for a good reference. The Sentinel report is brief and the Council have refused to comment. I do have to wonder about the basis on which Ms Cowan left. Was such a deal done here? I think we have a right to know. If the Council Tax arrears should have been declared to Stoke prior to appointment, and it’s true that they were not, then this surely raises questions about probity.

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