Thousands of council taxpayers in Leeds will see their annual bills reduced by £150 as Leeds City Council makes use of a government scheme to financially help ‘economically vulnerable’ households through the coronavirus pandemic, writes Richard Beecham.
It follows the government’s announcement of a £500m council tax relief fund, for which it has now issued guidance for local authorities on how to spend.
The council added that any money left over from the scheme would go towards a hardship fund to help other people in need.
The current rate for a Band A property for Leeds is £1,140.76 a year, but those already in receipt of working age council tax support can receive a maximum discount of 75 per cent, meaning they would currently pay £285 per year.
When added to the latest discounts, this would mean those on low incomes would pay £135 in a year – or just over £11 a month.
Although the full plans are yet to be finished, Leeds City Council said it expects to have the scheme in place soon.
A council spokesperson said:
“As part of the government’s response to the current pandemic, they have announced a £500 million fund for local government to provide support to economically vulnerable households.
“The government has published details as to how this grant should be used and the expectation is that it will be used to reduce by up to £150 per person the council tax liability of all recipients of working age council tax support. Any remaining grant will be used by Leeds City Council to support a local scheme which will target those in need. Further information will be provided when details of the proposed scheme have been finalised.
“In the meantime, details of the different options available for paying council tax can be found on the back of an individual’s council tax bill and a dedicated telephone support line is available to discuss these in more detail.
“We want to be as supportive as possible during these unprecedented times and encourage council tax payers to get in touch with us if there are any issues which may impact on their ability to pay. We will discuss their circumstances and where appropriate agree a payment plan or arrange for other support to be put in place depending on the individual’s needs.”
Guidance published from the government claims it ‘strongly expects’ billing authorities to provide all recipients of working age local council tax support a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150, adding authorities should ‘use their discretionary powers’ to reduce the liability of council tax payers outside of their formal LCTS scheme design.
“Where a taxpayer’s liability for 2020-21 is, following the application of council tax support, less than £150, then their liability would be reduced to nil. Where a taxpayer’s liability for 2020-21 is nil, no reduction to the council tax bill will be available.”