Households across the West Midlands are waiting for a £150 council tax rebate that will be paid from today (Monday, April 4).
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the grant in February in a bid to counteract rising energy bills. All properties in council tax bands A to D are entitled to the £150 payment – but only those paying council tax by direct debit will receive it automatically.
Analysis by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) reveals more than 246,000 households across the Birmingham and Sandwell currently pay council tax manually meaning they will have to apply to receive the rebate. These residents either pay their bills by visiting their council’s website every month, make their payments by phone or visit their town hall to pay in person.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils across the country, said payments will be made from today. But councils across the country have warned there could be a delay with handing it out.
Councils are now undertaking a “major exercise” of writing to all households which do not pay bills by direct debit, advising them how to claim the £150. Some councils have been told not to pay the £150 until households have made their council tax bill payment for April.
A flyer from the department for levelling up, housing and communities with information about the rebate is to be sent out with all annual council tax bills. Authorities are encouraging residents to set up a direct debit so they receive the rebate as quickly as possible – but alternative plans are being put in place.
If you’re not eligible for the council tax rebate you can apply for a grant from a separate fund.
Birmingham has approximately 417,000 properties which fit into the A – D council tax bandings. The council holds bank details for around half of residents in these properties – around 206,000 properties.
The other half, an eye-watering 211,000 households, have no bank details recorded with Birmingham city council.
The scheme will be open for payments to be made to eligible households until the end of September 2022 for the main scheme and the end of November for the discretionary scheme. The payments received will be disregarded as income for any people on means tested benefits.
At their last cabinet meeting, councillors discussed the rebate scheme, adding the government will provide £3.6 million in funding for Birmingham to operate a discretionary fund for households in need who would not otherwise be eligible. This could include, for example, individuals on low incomes who live in properties valued in bands E – H.
A Birmingham city council spokesperson said: “We are due to receive funding at the end of March and will need to ensure all council tax rebate payments are made by 30 September 2022. We anticipate, following verification checks, the first payments will start to be made towards the end of April/beginning of May, however this will be confirmed when the timescales have been finalised.
“If you already pay your council tax bill by direct debit and the name(s) of the bank account held matches the name(s) on the council tax bill, you do not need to contact us. It’s not too late to set up your direct debit if you already have (or would like to register for) a BRUM account (sign in or register for a BRUM account here). Alternatively, you can complete a Direct Debit form without creating a BRUM account.
“As this evolves, where eligible households haven’t claimed we will be looking into appropriate methods of communication i.e., social media, text, email or letter but, we do have until the end of September to reach out to those citizens who haven’t contacted us.”
Sandwell had one of the highest council tax rises in the West Midlands, and the country, at 4.99%.
Out of approximately 120,000 households, nearly 35,000, or 29%, do not pay their council tax by direct debit.
An online form will be available on Sandwell council’s website later this month (April) for people who do not pay their council tax by Direct Debit to provide their details so payments can be made into their bank accounts.
A spokesperson for Sandwell council said: “Sandwell council is working to award the £150 council tax rebate to those residents who are eligible. For those signed up to Direct Debit, we are aiming to start to make these payments in early April. Those not on Direct Debit will need to complete an application form before we can make the payment and we expect the application form to be available by early May.
“We also have approximately 20,000 households currently in receipt of council tax reduction who have no council tax to pay but are still eligible for the rebate.”
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