‘Inadequate!’ Outrage as households find they’re unable to claim £150 council tax rebate

Energy bills: Chairman reveals 140% increase in calls for help

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Last month, industry regulator Ofgem increased the price cap which means households should prepare for their energy bills to rise to nearly £2,000 a year. In light of the ongoing energy bill crisis, the UK Government has rolled out various financial support schemes, including the council tax rebate. However, groups such as National Energy Action (NEA), are voicing their concerns over the current level of support being provided as it turns out many households are unable to claim this discount.

Through the council tax rebate, households in bands A to D get a £150 discount on their council tax bill.

Overall, every person included in these tax brackets make up 80 percent of all people in the country, according to Government statistics.

Households do not need to pay back the £150 discount to their local council tax bill as part of the support.

Furthermore, the rebate is paid directly to recipients and is not deducted from their final tax bill.

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If someone pays their council tax via direct debit, the £150 rebate should be sent straight to their bank account in April 2022.

However, if someone does not pay off their tax bill via this payment method, their local council will get in touch to address how the rebate will be delivered.

Households not in these specific tax brackets are unable to put forward a claim for the £150 rebate. Instead, they’ve been directed to see if they can claim support via the Household Support Fund.

As a result, an estimated 600,000 households are at further risk of fuel poverty due to their lack of access to crucial support.

With the issues affecting those who do not pay their council tax via direct debit and the many households ineligible for the rebate, Adam Scorer, the NEA’s chief executive, explained why he believes not enough is being done to address the energy bill crisis.

Mr Scorer said: “The UK Government’s response to the energy crisis has been wholly inadequate so far. We’ve got serious concerns about the way the council tax rebate is being implemented.

“Councils across England and Wales have their own way of administering the scheme, creating a postcode lottery for struggling households. In England, the rebate doesn’t apply to those outside council tax bands A to D.

“While the Treasury said that there would be money for other vulnerable households outside of the eligibility, they will often need to self-identify, rather than just getting the rebate automatically, which could see desperate households slipping through the cracks.

“It’s estimated that over 600,000 low-income households fall outside of bands A to D, and many of those will not have access to the support.”

Outside of the rebate, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak also launched a similar £200 rebate scheme for energy bills,

However, unlike the £150 discount, this support scheme is a loan and will be repaid to the Government.

Discussing the wider fuel poverty crisis, Mr Scorer added: “These problems are not isolated to the council tax energy rebate.

“The £200 heat now pay later scheme is designed in such a way that households using prepayment metres, often the most financially vulnerable, are more likely to miss out on the benefits. This is unacceptable.

“It is already a dire situation. However, when the price cap rises again in October and the temperature begins to drop, millions of households are going to be pushed below the waterline unless the government introduces a new, adequate package of support.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The £150 council tax rebate is just one part of the government’s £22 billion package of support that will help millions of people deal with rising living costs.

“Direct debit is the quickest and easiest way to pay council tax, and the best way for most people to get the rebate – but councils have a range of other options for people who don’t pay by direct debit.

“Most councils have already started paying the rebate and we fully expect the rest to do so without further delay.”

 

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