Sefton Council is now in the process making the final, statutory, £150 payments to local residents under the Government’s Energy Rebate Scheme.
Since payments started in April, Sefton Council has paid out over almost £15 million to over approaching 100,000 Band A to D households in Sefton through scheme. It is now crediting the Council Tax accounts of people it has not been able to reach with £150 to make sure they do not miss out.
Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory Compliance and Corporate Services said: “We were able make the £150 payments automatically to those people who Pay their Council Tax by Direct Debit and over 29,000 people responded to the letters we sent them and registered so that we could pay them.
“However, there are around 9,500 eligible Band A to D households which we have been unable to contact, including people who have moved house during the process, so we are crediting their Council Tax accounts with £150 to ensure they benefit from the scheme.”
The Council is sending letters to those whose Council Tax accounts are being credited, top inform them of the £150 payment.
As the statutory phase of the Energy Rebate Scheme draws to a close, Sefton Council is already looking ahead at discretionary funding. Over £700,000 is available to the Council to allocate to Sefton households that are in need, as well as those that do not fall into the Council Tax bands A to D category.
Discretionary payments are planned on specific groups and the Council is aiming to minimise the need for any registration procedure to help ensure payments can be sent as soon as possible. This included groups such as those who already receive means-tested Council Tax Reduction. This would remove the need for an application procedure as the Council is already aware of their financial circumstances.
People living in Council Tax bands A to D will receive a further payment of £20 on top of the £150 they have already received making a total of £170. Residents granted a full Council Tax exemption, due to being severely mentally impaired will receive £170.
The Council also plans to make a £170 payment to Council Tax-payers in band E to H properties who are in receipt of means-tested Council Tax Reduction at that property.
Letters are being sent to those Band E to H Council Tax-payers who don’t pay by Direct Debit so that payments can be made directly to their bank accounts.
Sefton Council’s Cabinet has also agreed that additional payments be made to households with children that are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction. Amounts would be £20 for households with one or two children and £30 for those with three or more children.
Housing providers, charities and non-resident owners who are not liable for Council Tax or and where the responsibility for Council Tax falls with someone else, are also being targeted for payments.
Cllr Lappin added: “With more and more local people facing increasing financial pressures, Sefton Council wants to make sure it gets these discretionary payments out to them as quickly as possible.
“Most of them we can pay automatically, but there is a small number in the Band E to H Council Tax-payer group who we are writing to, asking them to respond within two weeks.
“If we don’t hear from them, the money will be credited to their Council Tax accounts.”
People who are facing financial difficulties can find information about support and advice at www.sefton.gov.uk/advice-benefits.