A £500 million hardship fund established by the Government will provide council tax relief for vulnerable people and households to help those affected by coronavirus.
Housing and local government secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed the measure yesterday, along with new guidance for councils, following an original announcement by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Budget.
The Government set out that the hardship fund will go to local authorities in England to enable them to reduce the 2020 to 2021 council tax bills of working age people receiving Local Council Tax Support.
Councils will also be able to use the funding to provide further discretionary support to vulnerable people through other support arrangements such as Local Welfare Schemes.
“Providing the necessary financial support to people and families is critical at this difficult time when many people will be concerned about changes to their income,” said Jenrick.
“That’s why we’re giving local councils an additional £500 million, to ensure help is available for the most vulnerable people in our society who are struggling to pay their council tax bills.
“The Government is on your side and will do whatever takes to help.”
According to the Government, the hardship fund will support those in receipt of Local Council Tax Support schemes by reducing their council tax liability for 2020 to 2021.
The announcement followed government confirmation that councils will receive an additional £1.6 billion in funding to enable them to respond to other COVID-19 pressures across all the services they deliver, including stepping up support for the adult social care workforce and for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people.
Responding to the announcement, Councillor Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board, said: “We are pleased that councils will now be able to provide much-needed support to many households on the lowest incomes by quickly reducing or removing the need for them to pay council tax.
“Councils are leading local efforts to support communities as they try and cope with the coronavirus outbreak. By accepting our call for local flexibility over some of this hardship funding, councils can better-target some of it towards people who may be especially, or newly, vulnerable as a result of the coronavirus, using existing local welfare schemes.
“We also urge the Government to distribute funding for the business support scheme sooner rather than later so they can also facilitate the speedy transfer of money to businesses.”