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Coronavirus Finance & Bills Help

The Local Government Association (which represents councils in England and Wales) has told us that all local authorities have help in place for people who are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus. COSLA, its Scottish equivalent, has told us that councils there are standing by to help too. If you’re in Northern Ireland, see more on the council tax-equivalent domestic rates system in the questions below.

We contacted a selection of 20 councils across England, Wales and Scotland. All of those to reply said they were offering some sort of support, and that this would depend on people’s circumstances. Help offered could include…

Payment holidays and payment plans

All but one of the councils we heard from were giving those struggling with their 2021/21 council tax the chance to put off paying some of their bill to a later date – though you’ll need to ask for this.

Of those that may offer it, it’s judged on a case-by-case basis and the deferral length varies, so there’s no certainty. Some had pushed payments back a couple of months, others were more generous, offering a longer payment deferral. Do check with your council what it’s offering.

While not all local authorities were offering a payment deferral, all we checked with were offering payment plans, where you could work out an affordable repayment schedule with the council.  

Bill reductions if you’re on universal credit, other benefits or a low income

Council tax reductions are long-standing discounts of up to 100% off bills for those on benefits or a low income. It doesn’t matter if you own your own home or rent, or whether you’re employed or not. All can apply. Yet what you get depends on:

  • Where you live (each council runs its own scheme)
  • Your circumstances (eg, income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
  • Your income, including savings, pensions and your partner’s income
  • If children live with you
  • If other adults live with you

Some councils may let you backdate the reduction, but by how many months varies by council so you’ll need to check, though the sooner you do it, the sooner your bill will be reduced. On top of the discount, in England, you may also get an extra £150 off your bill backed by a £500 million Covid-19 hardship fund. Apply for a council tax reduction at Gov.uk.

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