7 April 2020| | 2 min read
Help for the most vulnerable
Newcastle City Council announced financial help today for thousands of citizens struggling through the Coronavirus crisis.
More than £6.1m of the Government’s Council Tax Hardship Fund is being passed on to thousands of residents, many of whom have lost their jobs or been furloughed due to the crisis, so they can buy food and pay bills.
The money is going to working age people eligible to pay reduced Council Tax due to their low incomes. Other vulnerable groups have been identified by the council to receive the rest of the money so the greatest number of residents can be supported.
In the region of 23,500 people in Newcastle who pay reduced levels of Council Tax will each receive £150 towards their Council Tax bill of which 15,000 households will not pay any Council Tax - provided their circumstances do not change later in the year.
Residents who currently receive Council Tax support do not need to contact the council, as it will automatically issue a new Council Tax bill in the next couple of weeks.
In anticipation of a significant increase in new claims for help paying Council Tax the council has identified the following new groups for help:
Self-employed people who no longer qualify for Council Tax reduction due to changes the council mad to its Council Tax reduction scheme on 1 April 2020
Self-employed people receiving Council Tax reduction
People in receipt of Universal Credit who get an extra £20 per week from the Government
This is how the council will spend the remaining money:
£150,000 to help people pay for food and bills through the council’s Crisis Support Scheme
Financial assistance to people in genuine hardship
Amend the council’s Crisis Support scheme to allow recipients to cash-in voucher payments or enable payments to be paid into bank accounts where PayPoints are closed or out of cash
Council Tax support
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “We know from the calls to our CityLife Line that a lot of people are struggling. Those who have lost their jobs and families with children to feed who are having to get by on very little money. This is a very worrying time for many of our residents.
“The city council is facing a huge demand for help so we are targeting every single penny to the point of greatest need so people can pay bills such as Council Tax and buy food.
“We will be reducing Council Tax bills by £150 for those receiving Council Tax support making additional money available for our Crisis Support scheme. Consequently, we expect about 15,000 households to receive a nil council tax bill for 2020/21 and another 8,500 to receive a reduced one.
“Although any Government money to help our residents is welcome, I am concerned that it’s not enough.
“We expect a huge increase in the number of new council tax support claims from those no longer receiving a wage due to the pandemic, and there may not be enough money to help them all. I am writing to Government calling for greater financial assistance.”
Other help is available for residents - and businesses - who are struggling financially because of Coronavirus. They should visit the council’s website www.newcastle.gov.uk/coronavirus for more information.
"Although any Government money to help our residents is welcome, I am concerned that it's not enough."
Councillor Nick Forbes
Leader of Newcastle City Council