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Top tips to get help with your Council Tax

If you're struggling to pay your Council Tax, make sure you know what support you can get. The money we get from Council Tax is essential to help us deliver our services, like emptying bins and caring for vulnerable adults and children, so it's important that everyone pays their bill.

While we're committed to supporting our residents as much as possible, it's still very important that we do collect Council Tax. So if you do not pay, and you do not contact us to ask for help, we may take enforcement action. This is a last resort which can lead to serious consequences, and significantly increase the amount you have to pay.

We know that lots of people are having money problems because of coronavirus so it's more important than ever to get help quickly if you need it. Here are some top tips to get help with your Council Tax.

1. Department for Work and Pensions benefits

Make sure you've claimed all the benefits and support you're entitled to. For working-age families this could include: Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, or Statutory Sick Pay from the Department for Work and Pensions. Citizens Advice can help you find out which benefits you're entitled to.

2. Council Tax Reduction

Claiming Council Tax Reduction helps reduce the amount of Council Tax you need to pay. Both working-age people and pensioners can claim Council Tax Reduction. The discount you'll get will depend on your income and the size of your household.

Even if you can only get a small discount it's still important to claim it. Recent government grants like the Covid Local Support Grant, which was paid out by the council, are automatically linked to Council Tax Reduction.

You can claim Council Tax Reduction online now.

3. Students

If you're currently in education, you may be eligible for a student exemption on your Council Tax bill. You can apply for a student exemption online. You'll need to complete the application form and provide a copy of your updated student certificate, which you can get from your education provider.

4. Reduce your bills by paying over a longer period

You should pay your Council Tax instalments for the current year on time. If you're struggling with this, we may be able to give you more time to pay - this is called an extended payment plan. If you'd like to talk to us about an extended payment plan, please get in touch using the Revenues general enquiry form.

If you're currently paying your Council Tax over 10 months, we can change it so you pay over 12 months for your 2022/2023 Council Tax instead. This means your monthly payments would be lower. If you'd like to talk to us about paying over 12 months, please get in touch using the Revenues general enquiry form.

5. Financial support - Household Support Fund and money health check

Call us on 01642 726006 and one of our caseworkers will carry out a 'health check' on your account to help us understand how we can support you with your Council Tax. This may include discounts like Single Person Discount.

You may also be able to get help through the Household Support Fund. This is funding from the Department for Work and Pensions to help support those most in need. It can be used for food, energy, and water bills. The funding is available until 31 March 2022. You can apply for the Household Support Fund online.

6. If you're not currently paying your Council Tax

If you're struggling to make your payments, or not paying at all, please fill in our online budget sheet. We can look at your circumstances and talk to you about repayment plans to help you get back on track.

7. If you're currently self-isolating

If you're self-isolating and you cannot leave the house to pay your Council Tax via PayPoint, there are other ways to pay. Find out more about how to pay Council Tax. Alternatively, you can contact one of our caseworkers on 01642 726006 and we'll help you with your payment.

If your income has been affected because you're self-isolating, you may be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Self-Isolation Support Payment. You can apply for the Self-Isolation Support Payment online. Now that the government's guidance on self-isolation has changed, the scheme is only available for those required to self-isolate before 24 February 2022. You must apply within 42 days from the first day of isolation. Any applications received after 6 April 2022 will not be accepted.

8. Council Tax arrears (debts) from previous years

If you're in Council Tax debt from previous years, we may be able to create an affordable payment plan, specific to your needs. You'll pay in agreed instalments (weekly, fortnightly, or monthly) over an appropriate period of time. Please call us on 01642 726006 to discuss your account with one of our caseworkers.

9. Hardship

If you're experiencing exceptional hardship, whether it's because of coronavirus or for another reason, you might be able to get a Crisis Award to help you with food, essential clothing, or energy bills. You can find out more on the Community Support Scheme page.