Thousands of households across Ipswich will be eligible for a reduction in their council tax bill after councillors approved further support for residents facing financial difficulties.
Last year, the Government announced a new Hardship Fund to help households already in receipt of means-tested working age Local Council Tax Support (LCTS). This enabled a reduction of up to £150 to be automatically applied to council tax bills for these households – ensuring the borough's most financially vulnerable residents had nothing to pay in 2020/21.
Councils were required to hold back enough Hardship Fund to make this same relief available to any new customers who claimed LCTS throughout the council tax year. However, as the year end approaches, there is still some funding remaining and so the Council has taken the decision to reduce council tax bills even more.
The Council approved an amendment to the existing Hardship Fund to enable the maximum amount of funding to be allocated to working age council taxpayers most in need of support last year.
The Council will now award further Hardship Relief to eligible residents who have received LCTS against their council tax liability for 2020/21. Households who are affected will automatically receive an adjusted bill – there is no requirement to apply.
Any Hardship Fund remaining, after applying the additional award, will be used to fund Discretionary Financial Assistance for residents in exceptional circumstances.
Cllr Sophie Meude, Portfolio Holder for Communities, said: “Many of our residents are facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and we are pleased that we are able to offer further financial support for the most vulnerable members of our community.
“The initial reduction of up to £150 introduced last year helped over 9,900 struggling households that we were already aware of, but we know that situations change. If you do not already receive support but your income has reduced, you may be eligible for a reduction in your council tax bill as well as this additional support. We encourage residents to visit our website to find out more about what support may be available to them.”
Residents whose financial circumstances have been affected by the coronavirus can contact the Suffolk Advice and Support Service on 0800 068 3131 for free confidential advice on one-off grants, rent arrears, mortgages, credit cards or other debts. The service, launched in response to Covid-19, can also help with access to food and other coronavirus related concerns.