Council tax rebate warning as some households won’t get £150 cash until NOVEMBER
HARD-UP households hit by the cost of living crisis could be left waiting until NOVEMBER for crucial cash help.
Millions of people living in homes with council tax bands A-D are eligible for £150 rebate to help cover rising energy bills.
And for those who don't qualify but are still struggling, a £144m discretionary fund was announced by the government in February.
Councils have each been given a pot of cash to give out to those who need it – but many local authorities have yet to launch the scheme.
It's up to each council how it gives out the money, including how much and who's eligible, but could be worth up to £150.
For instance in Stoke residents have been told there will be more details of the scheme "when available" and that it has until November 30 to make payments.
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Other councils which have not yet announced details of how hard-up councils can get the help include West Suffolk, Charnwood and Braintree.
It comes as inflation hit a 40-year high of 9%, leaving people struggling to pay for essentials like food and bills.
Meanwhile other councils have already launched the hardship fund which is aimed at vulnerable and low income households.
For example in Camden you can get between £50 and £150 if you're not eligible for the main scheme but are struggling with energy bills.
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This includes if you are in bands E-H for council tax and get a council tax discount through separate schemes, or if you live with several other people and can show you are responsible for energy bills.
You can apply now and see if you're eligible if Camden is your local council.
Meanwhile Wyre Forest council residents in E-H bands and in receipt of council tax support are among those who can up to £150.
In some cases the payment will be made automatically but some may have to apply by emailing the council.
An estimated 4.7million households are in council tax bands E-H and so don't get the cash automatically, but are among those who could qualify for a discretionary payment.
Some families could get extra cash from the fund on top of the main £150 council tax energy rebate.
Councillor Shaun Davies of the Local Government Association (LGA) said councils "have worked hard to get energy rebate payments" to millions of eligible households, but it has been a "significant task and not without its challenges".
He said: "Many residents who are signed up to direct debit will have already started to receive their rebate.
"Many councils are now focusing on contacting those eligible who do not pay their council tax by direct debit and are also setting up their local schemes to offer discretionary help to households who are not eligible under the terms of the rebate scheme, but who are struggling to meet the costs of rising energy bills."
How to get help through the discretionary fund
How the scheme works, including who is eligible and how to apply will depend on where you live.
Some councils have not yet said how the scheme will work and so you may have to wait where you are.
Others have said who qualifies for the cash but have not yet opened applications.
You can check with your local council directly to find out how to get the payment where you are.
Councils have until November 30, 2022 at the latest to give out this discretionary cash.
You can find out which band you're in to see if you're eligible for the automatic scheme, or need to apply to the fund by using the government's search tool – you just need to enter your postcode.
There are also some exemptions to those in A-D bands, for example if you don't live in the home.
You could challenge your council tax band if you think it's wrong, so you don't miss out on the cash.
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But beware a revaluation of your band could put you in a lower band where you pay MORE council tax, so consider the risks.
If you are on a low income or receiving benefits, you could eligible for a reduction on your Council Tax bill through a separate scheme.
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