SHDC agrees additional help to households in the grip of the cost of living crisis

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SHDC agrees additional help to households in the grip of the cost of living crisis

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South Hams District Councillors have agreed a discretionary council tax payment scheme. 

Having already paid £3 million to 20,000 households as part of the £150 Council Tax Rebate Scheme over the past month, the Executive at South Hams District Council met today, Thursday, 26 May, to approve an additional scheme to distribute a "Discretionary Council Tax Rebate".

Following the Government’s announcement for additional support for households in Council Tax Bands A to D, South Hams District Council was awarded £4,332,600. The council were also awarded an additional £173,700 to support vulnerable households not eligible for the main £150 Council Tax Rebate scheme.

The council has started to process over 1,200 applications that it has received from those households by those who have already applied online. However there are still 5,000 households that have not claimed, or do not know that they are eligible, including those who already receive reductions in their Council Tax.

The council has been working on a voucher scheme that eligible households can cash their £150 directly at any Post Office. Households will receive a letter from the council explaining more about how they will receive this money in the next few weeks.

While this scheme is being set up, the fastest way to get payment still continues to be by filling in a claim form on our website here: www.southhams.gov.uk/rebate-application

The discretionary scheme agreed today will mean that the council will be able to give payments to residents who are not eligible for the main £150 Council Tax Rebate scheme.

The discretionary scheme will aim to support residents who meet the following criteria:

· Those that live in a Council Tax property band E-H and are currently being paid a Council Tax Reduction Scheme payment

· Those that live in a property where the owner or landlord is responsible for Council Tax, but the household or tenants are directly liable for the energy bills. This could include people living in a house of multiple occupation or someone under the age of 18.

· Those that live in a Council Tax property band E-H and not currently being paid a Council Tax Reduction Scheme payment, but have savings of no more than £6,000 and a weekly net income less than the following:

· £250 for a single person

· £320 for a couple

· £400 for a family (lone parent or couple) with one dependent child

· £500 for a family (lone parent or couple) with more than one dependent child

If the council has any funding remaining, the Executive will discuss a further set of criteria in July.

Cllr Nicky Hopwood, Executive Member for Council Tax and Housing Benefits, said: “There are still over 5,000 households that have not yet claimed this rebate. Our team have been working on a scheme where residents can claim their £150 from the Post Office. This is another method to make it easier for our residents to cash their voucher at any Post Office.

"However, this will take a few weeks to set up, so residents can still choose to get their £150 by completing the claim form on our website.

"If our staff do need to contact you, they will not ask for your bank details, personal data or passwords over the telephone. If we need further information, you will be asked to provide it on our website www.southhams.gov.uk.

“Please be careful and watch out for scammers who could try to cold call you to gain access to your bank account details. If you are in any doubt at all, please contact us directly. We would rather you check with us than be scammed."

"If you don't qualify for these rebates, there is a range of other direct and indirect financial support available on our website through our Support Directory. This is a one-stop guide on where to go for help that we offer, and that provided from other organisations on a wide range of subjects.”

South Hams District Council's, Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Unlike the main fund where the Government allocate who gets what, this time we are able to clearly see where the discretionary money needs to go. We want to make sure that we help our most vulnerable residents who missed out on the main £150 payments.

“There is sometimes a misconception that because you live in a bigger house, that you don’t need financial help, but that isn’t always the case. There are many reasons why people struggle with energy bills, so it’s important not to judge others.

“As always our aim is to get the money out of the door and into the pockets of the residents who need it as quickly as we can.

To find out about the range of support on offer, both from the Council and other organisations, please visit the Council’s Support Directory here: www.southhams.gov.uk/support-directory

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