The Government has confirmed a £500 million Hardship Fund which will be available to local authorities In England to provide Council Tax relief for 2020/21 bills. The Fund is available to help working-age people who are receiving Council Tax Support/Reduction, living vulnerable households, and families who are affected most by coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Fund can also be used to provide further discretionary support to vulnerable people through other support arrangements such as Local Welfare Schemes. The Hardship Fund will support those in receipt of Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) schemes by reducing their council tax liability for 2020 to 2021.
What support will be available in your area?
All local authorities have their own existing schemes for proving support to working-age Council Tax payers and they will also have their own local policies when considering how to provide this additional support. Each local authority should have its own policy regarding how they will administer the Fund, but their options may include:
- 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 LCTS recipients whose annual liability exceeds £150
The Government has produced guidance to local authorities about the Hardship Fund which you can find here.
Minimum requirements set out in the guidance include:
The Government’s strong expectation is that billing authorities will provide all recipients of working-age LCTS during the financial year 2020-21 with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150, using their discretionary powers to reduce the liability of council tax payers outside of their formal LCTS scheme design.
Where a taxpayer’s liability for 2020-21 is, following the application of council tax support, less than £150, then their liability would be reduced to £0. Where a taxpayer’s liability for 2020-21 is nil, no reduction to the council tax bill will be available.
There should be no need for any recipient of LCTS to make a separate claim for a reduction under this scheme. The billing authority should assess who is eligible for support from the hardship fund and automatically rebill those council taxpayers.
Whether or not a taxpayer has been affected by COVID-19, directly or indirectly, should not be taken into account in assessing eligibility for this reduction.
The Government is keen to ensure that support is provided as quickly as possible to individuals who are eligible. It, therefore, considers that there is a strong case for councils to provide the support upfront to enable the maximum benefit to be delivered promptly. However, the Government recognises that in some cases, authorities may consider that the most effective assistance could be profiled across the year.
How can you find out what is available in your local area?
To check what support is being provided by your local authority, visit your local authority’s website where they should provide details of their policies and how they are administering the fund. For further information and general enquiries you can call 030 3444 0000 or write to:
2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
If you need advice about this or any other matter as a Kinship Carer, please contact Grandparents Plus advice service or you can call us on 0300 123 7015 Monday – Friday 9.30 am – 3.30 pm and Tuesday and Thursday 8 pm – 9.30 pm.