Support available for those struggling to pay their council tax
People in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have outstanding payments on their council tax bill and are struggling to pay are being urged to contact their district council to find out what support may be available. An extra £150 of discount is now available to certain residents.
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are very aware that many people have new or increased financial worries following the Coronavirus pandemic and there are a number of ways they can help people struggling to pay.
The government hasn’t suspended council tax during the pandemic and so it still needs to be paid. The two councils are especially concerned that people could get into further debt if they don’t keep up with their payments and so have written to more than 6,000 households, who aren’t currently in receipt of council tax support, whose accounts are in arrears, advising them on the options that are available and urging them to get in touch.
The councils can also now confirm that residents receiving a reduction on their council tax via the councils’ Council Tax Reduction scheme, will receive up to a further £150 off their 2020/21 council tax bill. The councils are writing to all eligible residents to let them know. The extra discount comes from a government hardship fund announced in April.
Anyone who is worried about being able to afford their council tax should get in touch with the councils to find out about the help that’s available to best support them. This can include:
- rescheduling council tax instalments so that they start later or are spread over a longer time;
- applying for council tax support - the councils’ council tax reduction scheme can help reduce the amount of council tax people have to pay – visit www.southoxon.gov.uk/ctrs or whitehorsedc.gov.uk/ctrs for details;
- making payment, setting up a Debit Debit, or changing payment arrangements online via southoxon.gov.uk/counciltax or whitehorsedc.gov.uk/counciltax.
To support those who are self-isolating, and to help avoid unnecessary travel and contact, residents are encouraged to pay online. People can make single payments by credit or debit card when it best suits them.
Alternatively, you can pay by calling the 24/7 automated payment service on 0345 302 2313 (south) or 0345 302 2315 (Vale) - please choose option 1 and option 1 again. When you call you will need to quote the council tax reference at the top of this letter or as displayed at the top of your council tax bill, so please make sure you have either of these with you.
Cllr Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet Member for Finance at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We are obviously concerned that if people are struggling to pay bills at the moment, they could experience much more challenging financial debt problems in a few months’ time. We are therefore writing to people who have missed all, or part of, a recent payment to let them know about the support that’s available. Above all, our message is – if you are struggling to pay, please contact us.”
Cllr Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “These are very uncertain times and we know that there will be many people who are now struggling to pay their bills. We want to do what we can to help make sure that your council tax doesn’t add to those worries, so please get in touch with us if you are having trouble paying.
“Given the potential impact of the current situation on those already on low income I’m pleased that we have been able to provide up to £150 additional discount to those on the Council Tax Reduction scheme.”