Coronavirus has forced nearly a million people to seek universal credit benefits, and the Government has stepped in to offer financial help. One of the initiatives brought in by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak offers financial support to those who are struggling to pay for their council tax bills. Does this mean we all get a break from paying council tax this month? Express.co.uk reveals the answer.
What is council tax?
Council tax is collected by local councils and is used to pay for services in communities.
Every property is placed in a council tax band from A to H, based on size, location, and a few other factors.
Check your band here.
Some properties and groups, like full-time students, are exempt from council tax.
It is used to maintain local services, support the elderly and vulnerable, look after parks and streets, etc.
Council tax pays for a quarter of local government spending.
READ MORE- Council tax and coronavirus: Can you get money off your council tax?
Those who are struggling for money during the pandemic can
Rishi Sunak announced the Hardship fund at Budget 2020
Is council tax increasing?
From April 1, households across the nation will be paying around 15 percent more on their council tax bill.
The average Band D council tax in England for this financial year, for example, will be £1,817 this year instead of £1,750.
This means in England, homes will see roughly a 3.9 percent increase, while homes in Wales will see a huge 15.4 percent increase.
Scotland homes will pay an average of 4.1 percent extra.
Business have been forced to close and millions have lost their jobs
Is council tax on hold?
The Government’s £500million Hardship Fund, which was announced by the Chancellor at Budget, is intended to support those strapped for cash during the pandemic.
Local councils will be receiving a massive funding boost and can use this money to reduce council tax bills for those eligible.
The Gov.uk website states that the money will go to “local authorities in England to enable them to reduce the 2020 to 2021 council tax bills of working age people receiving Local Council Tax Support”.
If your total council tax bill is less than £150 and you receive Council Tax Support, you may not have to pay at all.
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Around 2.3 million people will benefit from tax support throughout the pandemic.
The Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said on March 24: “Providing the necessary financial support to people and families is critical at this difficult time when many people will be concerned about changes to their income.
“That’s why we’re giving local councils an additional £500 million, to ensure help is available for the most vulnerable people in our society who are struggling to pay their council tax bills.
“The Government is on your side and will do whatever takes to help.”
The vulnerable and those with low income could recieve council tax relief
Who will get reduced council tax bills?
Gov.uk says all councils have their own schemes providing support to working age council taxpayers.
It says: “The level of support is decided by the council, taking account of local circumstances, but will provide a reduction on council tax bills to lower income households, taking account of income and savings.”
It explains billing authorities will establish their own local approach to using any remaining grant to assist the vulnerable, including:
- Council tax relief using existing discretionary discount/hardship policies
- Provision of support outside of the council tax system through Local Welfare or similar schemes
- Offering a higher level of council tax reduction for working-age Local Council Tax Support recipients whose annual liability exceeds £150
If you have no money to pay your council tax, you need to alert your local council
Currently, if you miss a Council Tax payment your council will write to you after two weeks to ask you to pay what you owe.
They normally give a seven day deadline and if you don’t pay they might ask for the full year’s outstanding in one go.
However, it is thought that councils will change their approach in light of the pandemic.
If you will struggle to pay your Council Tax this month, make sure you alert the council before you miss a payment.
If you make them aware, they will be able to help you rather than cause more problems.
Daily Express :: Life Feed