Report by Head of Customer Focus (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Head of Customer Focus (circulated previously) regarding support for energy bills Council Tax rebate.
The Director Resources highlighted the following:
· On 3 February 2022, the Government announced measures to help millions of households from rising energy costs. These measures included a £150 council tax energy rebate. The Government was providing funding for billing authorities to give all households in England whose primary residence was valued in council tax bands A-D a one off council tax energy rebate payment of £150. Excluded from this were properties such as second and empty homes.
· The Government would also provide funding for billing authorities to operate a separate discretionary fund for households in need who would not otherwise be eligible. These could include for example individuals on low incomes who live in properties valued in bands E-H.
· North Devon Council had been allocated total funding of £5,847,750 which included £192,000 for the discretionary fund and £5,655,750 for the main scheme fund.
· Each household who paid their council tax by direct debit would receive their payment directly into their bank account where bank account details match the details of the liable parties. This payment would be made after the first April direct payment had been made to the Council. Around 80% paid their Council Tax via direct debit.
· For customers who did not pay by direct debit or whose direct debit bank account details did not match the liable party (i.e where council tax was paid by a third party) it was intended to run an application process.
· The Government had made it very clear that these payments were intended to assist households to pay their energy bills and that every effort should be made to make a payment however, as a last resort the option could be made to non-direct-debit payers of crediting their council tax account.
· A leaflet had been included within Council Tax bills as appended to the report.
· The Council was working with other Devon Local Authorities on the discretionary scheme.
· The Council would receive some funding from Government to cover administrative costs. This amount had not yet been confirmed.
Councillor Crabb arrived.
In response to questions, the Director of Resources advised the following:
· If all administrative funds were not utilised then there was potential that it could be used towards the overall revenue budget pressure and offset additional energy costs incurred by the Council.
· For those Council Tax payers who did not pay by direct debit, they would be required to complete a short form to provide their Bank and Council Tax reference details. The Council would contact all customers affected who had not already applied through the process. A press release would be issued and social media posts would be made to make these customers aware.
The Committee thanked the Director of Resources and his team for their hard work in administering all Government grants.
(a) the contents of the report be noted;
(b) it be noted that the details of the separate discretionary scheme would follow at the next scheduled Strategy and Resources Committee in May 2022.