Universal Credit claimants advised to apply for Council Tax discount ‘straight away’

PMQs: Boris Johnson grilled by Blackford on Universal Credit

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The number of people claiming Universal Credit has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, as the financial impact of the Covid crisis hit Britons. Between March 13, 2020 and January 14, 2021, 4.5 million claims for the benefit were made, official Government statistics show.

In the same time frame, there were 4.3 million starts to Universal Credit.

As of January 14, 2021, 6.0 million people were on Universal Credit – a 98 percent increase since March 12, 2020.

As well as the payment itself, further help may be available to claimants.

It’s important to note the other financial support which a person may be able to get could be different in Scotland or Wales.

Among the extra help which could be available is a discount on Council Tax.

“You may be able to get help from your local authority with your Council Tax if you are on a low income or claim benefits, including Universal Credit,” Government guidance on the matter states.

“The help you will get depends on where you live, your circumstances, your household income – including savings and pensions, if any children or adults live with you and your local council’s own Council Tax reduction scheme.”

The Government also suggests eligible people on Universal Credit apply for this financial support as soon as possible.

“If you are claiming Universal Credit for the first time we would advise you to apply for Local Council Tax Reduction (LCTR) straight away, as many local authorities will not backdate it for you,” the warning states.

“You do not need to wait until your claim for Universal Credit has been assessed and/or paid.”

The government website states a person “might be able to get:

  • BT Basic (or KCOM Flex Packages for the East Riding or Hull City Council local authority areas) if they have no income
  • A Cold Weather Payment
  • Disabled Facilities Grants
  • Discretionary Housing Payments if the Universal Credit payment is not enough to pay their rent
  • Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Affordable Warmth
  • A reduction in their Council Tax
  • WaterSure to cap their bills if they have a water meter”.

A person needs to apply to their local council for Council Tax Reduction – something which is sometimes called Council Tax Support.

If a person is eligible for it, then they will get a discount on their bill.

It could be reduced by up to 100 percent.

People can apply even if they own their own home or rent, or if they are unemployed or working.

What a person gets will depend on certain factors:

For instance:

  • Where the person lives – each council runs its own scheme
  • Their circumstances (eg income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
  • Their household income – including savings, pensions and their partner’s income
  • If their children live with them
  • If other adults live with them.

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