Decision Maker: Director (Resources and Property)
Decision status: Implemented
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
In accordance with the attached Officer Decisions Record, the Director (Resources and Property) has made a decision on the implementation of the Council Tax Energy Rebate “Discretionary Scheme” following the allocation of funding from Government.
The Director (Resources and Property) has taken the decision to use the following approach to allocate the £150 payments to households under the “discretionary scheme”:
1. To build on the principles for eligibility for the scheme, as set out in the Government guidance.
2. For the scheme to be administered by Anglia Revenues Partnership
3. For support to be given to the following groups:
· Recipients of Local Council Tax Support in bands E to H.
· Properties exempt from Council Tax under class U (severely mentally impaired) in bands E to H.
· Those liable Council Taxpayers in Band F-H who qualify for the Disabled Band Reduction.
· Movers from temporary accommodation or a care placement after 1 April 2022.
· Residents of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) where the landlord pays Council Tax but the applicant pays for energy.
· Residents of band E-H properties who do not meet any of the above categories but are experiencing exceptional financial hardship.
4. To mirror the payment arrangements for the main scheme, namely:
a) to make payments to Council Tax payers who have direct debits in place straight into the relevant bank account as soon as at least one successful direct debit payment has been made (so long as the name on the account matches the liable party for Council Tax). These recipients will be asked through social media messaging and other communications to check their eligibility against the criteria on the council website.
b) To contact householders with no direct debit in place (or no matching names – see above) by letter, asking them to complete an online form to provide bank details so that payments can be made to them. If no response is received within 28 days, the £150 will be applied to the Council Tax account relating to the property, and a new bill issued. If, following payment of the rebate, the Council Tax account shows a credit balance, a follow-up process will then be initiated whereby the liable person is contacted by post and phone to help them claim a refund (a range of methods will be offered). No time limit has been set by Government for this process.
· Councils are required to develop local arrangements for distributing the energy rebate funding from Government.
· The funding is critical to supporting householders who are impacted by rising energy prices
· The decision was within the delegation given to the Director for Resources and Property
The principles set out above have arisen from work by Council officers, including expert operational advice from Anglia Revenues Partnership, in order to identify the arrangements that will: target the most vulnerable groups and those most in need of financial support for rising energy costs; not result in high administration costs; enable as many residents as possible to easily access the money, even if they don’t pay Council Tax by direct debit; and ensure payments can be made quickly.
Other options included:
- Providing financial supporting to different categories of West Suffolk residents
- Writing to all direct debit payers to ask them to apply for the grant
- Putting in place no, or a different time limit for non-direct debit payers to contact the Council with payment details
Following consideration, all of these options were dismissed on the grounds of their overlooking of vulnerable groups; negative implications for speed of payment; volume of customers to whom payments can be made quickly; or excessive cost to the public purse in terms of administrative burden.
Publication date: 13/06/2022
Date of decision: 13/06/2022