CLAIMS for council tax reductions have risen by 2.5 times the council’s usual level, as job uncertainty increases in Solihull.
Residents facing financial difficulties can apply for a reduction in their council tax bill – over April the council processed 1044 claims, up from a monthly average of 300.
Solihull council said it was looking at providing further support for people financially hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including a further discount of £150 from bills.
Residents facing difficulties apply either through Solihull Council’s website or are referred by the Jobcentre for help.
Council officers expect the list of claimants to grow longer through 2020, predicting at least 600 reductions per month.
In a report to councillors on the Resources Scrutiny Board, head of financial operations Julie Cooper said: “Based on the council’s estimates, this would see our working age council tax reduction caseload increase from 7,654 in April 2020 to 14,166 in March 2021. In addition to this would be our pensioner caseload which represents around 5,550 cases.”
Though incurring a financial hit from reducing claimants’ council tax bills, the council is receiving an immediate boost of government cash of £1.572 million.
Plans are also underway to credit £150 to council tax accounts for people who require rates reduced.
The council stated: “This money will be awarded directly to their council tax account (no physical payments will be made). Software to enable us to make the awards is in the final stages of testing and will be implemented on May 17. “Initial testing indicates that 7,407 working age claimants will receive a hardship payment totalling £1.051 million. “Of the 7,407 hardship payments awarded, this will result in just under a third of the claimants having no council tax left to pay for 2020/21.
“It is likely that demand may exceed the funding we have been provided with to implement the scheme.”