No plans for council tax holiday for all Harrogate residents - but help is on offer
Harrogate Borough Council has confirmed it has no plans to roll out a council tax holiday for all residents during the coronavirus outbreak.
However, help is on offer for individuals who are struggling to make ends meet - and the council is urging them to get in touch as soon as possible.
The local authority is responsible for collecting all council tax in district - most of which is passed onto North Yorkshire County Council and the region's fire service and police force.
"These services still need to be provided during this challenging time," a spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said, "so it is important that council tax is still collected so that the most vulnerable in our community are supported.
“If anyone’s income has changed or they are concerned about paying their rent or council tax, we are there to help.
“There are a number of options available so it is important that anyone struggling should get in touch with us as soon as possible."
Courts are not currently holding hearings for unpaid council tax due to lockdown restrictions - and residents are advised to pay what they owe as normal.
But Harrogate Borough Council is offering support to those who are struggling to pay their council bills because of the coronavirus. The support on offer includes:
- You can apply to have your council tax reduced. The council also review your monthly payments, spread them across 12 months or arrange a payment holiday
- If you are of pension age and need help to pay your rent, you can apply for housing benefits
- If you receive housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and are struggling to pay the remainder of your rent, the council may be able to give you a temporary, extra rent top up from its discretionary housing payment fund
- If you are working age and need help with your rent or day to day living costs, you can claim Universal Credit and/or Job Seekers Allowance direct from the Department of Work and Pensions
Nationally, a petition on the Parliament website calling for council tax to be scrapped during the duration of the crisis has attracted almost 100,000 signatures.
The County Councils Network, which represents 36 of England's top-tier authorities, said it "recognised and understood the motivation behind these schemes...for the most vulnerable and those in the greatest need".
"However, a blanket deferral or non-payment scheme offered across the board could create significant additional financial challenges for local government, reducing cashflow for vital services such as social care which are at the frontline in responding to coronavirus", the network's chairman, Coun David Williams, said.
Annual bills are usually paid in 10 instalments over 12 months, from April to January.
Harrogate Borough Council said online: "If you already receive council tax support, or housing benefit, please let us know about any income changes you have so we can make sure we are paying you your correct entitlement.
"Please give us a call on 01423 500600. You can also make an enquiry online."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter
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