MILLIONS of struggling households can get their council tax bills reduced by £150 this year due to the coronavirus crisis.
The council tax hardship fund, which was first announced in March, is available to working-age people who get council tax support.
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The government expects the fund to support 2.3million vulnerable Brits by slashing their council tax bills by £150 a year.
The support was first announced during the lockdown in March, but the government has confirmed it still applies.
It could come in handy as the whole of England is currently in lockdown until December 2.
It's also not the only help Brits can get from their councils – below we explain all you need to know.
What is the council tax hardship fund and am I eligible?
The council tax hardship fund, which is worth £500million, was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget in March.
It provides council tax relief to vulnerable people and households to help those affected most by coronavirus.
Councils will also be able to use the funding to provide extra support to vulnerable people through other support arrangements such as Local Welfare Schemes.
The cash is available to Brits of working age who receive council tax support, also known as a council tax reduction.
This is a benefit to help people who are on a low income or claiming certain benefits to pay their council tax bill.
Each local council is responsible for operating its own council tax support scheme so the amounts of support given across the country may vary.
The amount of council tax support you will get depends on many factors, including:
- Which benefits you receive
- Your age
- Your income
- Your savings
- Who you live with
- How much council tax you pay
- You may get more Council Tax Support if you receive a disability or carers benefit
If you receive the Guarantee Credit Part of Pension Credit you may even get your council tax paid in full.
If you don’t get Guarantee Credit but you have a low income and less than £16,000 in savings, you may still get some help.
Pensioners still need to pay council tax, but they may get a discount if they live alone, or depending on their situation be entitled to council tax support.
For all other payment reductions and schemes put in place due to coronavirus, it is best to enquire with your local council to see what you are entitled to.
How do I apply?
If you're eligible for the hardship fund for the 2020/2021 tax year, you should have received a new council tax bill sometime this spring.
Or if you have a bill of less than £150, you likely won't pay council tax at all.
If you still haven't received a revised bill, it's worth contacting your council to ask whether you're eligible.
Or if you're not yet receiving council tax support, you'll need to apply for this too.
To apply, simply go to the GOV.UK website, put in your postcode and follow the instructions.
If you've already had a council tax discount of £150, you won't receive one again this year.
What other support is available?
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) told The Sun many councils are helping residents who are struggling to pay in other ways too – for example, by allowing them to make their payments later in the year.
Most councils have also reduced or partially suspended enforcement action to ensure that council tax-payers aren't put under undue stress during the pandemic.
If you're struggling, it's important to not bury your head in the sand and instead ask for help from your council.
A spokesperson for MHCLG said: "We expect councils to be sympathetic to those in genuine hardship.
"People struggling to pay their council tax bills can get support from their council, and our £500million fund to support people in such circumstances means councils can cut these bills even more for some of the most vulnerable households."
We round up other ways to get help paying your council tax as over 2million are behind on bills.
We also explain what help is available if you're struggling to pay your bills, rent or mortgage during the second lockdown.
Six support schemes have been extended due to the restrictions, including furlough, self-employed grants and payment holidays.
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