COVID-19 - Council tax

Last updated: 12 May 2020 at 9am

Following the government’s announcement of a new Hardship Fund to help vulnerable residents to pay their council tax, the borough council has now received further guidance on these measures.

All residents in the borough will receive payment free months in April and May 2020, instead of February and March 2021. No instalments, which includes direct debit payments, will be taken in April and May. Payments will resume in June 2020 and will be due over the 10 months from June 2020 to March 2021. You do not need to take any further action at this time to benefit from this change.

Your recalculated bill will confirm your new instalment dates. The recalculated bill will issued in writing by post, unless you have signed up to receive your council tax bill by email in which case your recalculated bill will be issued by email instead.

For those who normally pay by 12 instalments, your payments will be taken as 10 monthly instalments from June 2020 to March 2021.

If you pay by direct debit and would prefer to maintain your original instalment plan as per your original bill, please see the below FAQ which explains what you need to do.

If you pay manually (for example by phone, online, cheque or bank transfer), you may continue to pay in line with your original bill if you prefer. You will still receive a new bill with new instalment dates, however there will be no issue if payments are maintained in line with your original bill.

Working age residents who receive support though the Council Tax Reduction Scheme will also receive a further reduction on their council tax bills. This discount will be automatically applied to eligible residents’ accounts. You do not need to make a separate application for this reduction.

PDF document Discretionary Policy - Council Tax Hardship Fund (COVID-19) (PDF) [81 kb]

Frequently asked questions

I pay over 12 months - will I get two non-payment months?

For those who normally pay over 12 months, your payments will be taken as 10 monthly instalments from June 2020 to March 2021.

Does this mean my monthly bill will increase?

Yes. As you will now be paying over 10 months, your monthly payments will slightly increase as you are paying over a shorter period of time.

Do I have to do this?

No. If you would like to continue paying your council tax over a 12-month period, you can continue to do so. If you pay manually, for example, online or by bank transfer, you can continue to make payments in line with your original bill. If you pay by direct debit, please pay the first two instalments manually, and contact us by email at localtax@basingstoke.gov.uk at the start of May, at which point we will amend your bill for the remainder of the year to be taken by direct debit.

I currently pay over 10 months. When will my two non-payment months now be?

If you pay over a 10-month period, your payment free months will now be in April and May 2020 instead of February and March 2021.

Do I have to do this?

No. If you would like to have your payment free months in February and March 2021, you can do so. If you pay manually, for example online or by bank transfer, please continue paying in line with your original bill. If you pay by direct debit, please make the February and March 2021 payments on your new bill manually in April and May 2020. Your direct debit will then continue from June, and cease in January.

I currently pay my council tax weekly. How am I affected by this change?

You can still continue to split your monthly amount and pay weekly, as long as the full monthly amount is paid on or before the due date indicated on your bill.

I currently receive support through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Will this continue?

Yes. In addition to the existing support you receive through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, if you are a working age claimant you will receive an additional reduction off your council tax bill. This will be automatically applied to your account and you do not need to do anything further

Who is included in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme?

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme is locally known as council tax support. It is available to people who may be on a low income and not able to pay their council tax instalments. If you think you may qualify, please apply here https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/benefitadvice). This does not include people who are in receipt of other statutory discounts, such as single person discount.

Does this support include OAPs?

The additional reduction is for those who receive support through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and only applies to working age claimants.

How can I make manual payments?

There are a number of ways you can pay your council tax. Please visit www.basingstoke.gov.uk/paymyctax for more information on this. Please note, payments cannot currently be accepted at Parklands as reception is closed to the public due to COVID-19. Please visit our website or refer to the back of your council tax bill for further information as to alternative methods of payment.

If the pandemic continues, what is the long term solution?

We will continue to monitor the advice and guidance provided by central government. As further information becomes available, we will inform residents accordingly of any changes which may impact their council tax.

Are there any plans to reduce council tax as a whole due to COVID-19?

There are currently no plans to reduce council tax as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are struggling financially as a result of COVID-19, please visit the Policy in Practice welfare support page, which will help you find out what support you may be eligible for.

Hardship Fund

The frequently asked questions below will help you if you have any queries about the Hardship Fund and if you claim Working Age Council Tax Support.

What is the Hardship Fund?

As part of its response to COVID-19, the government announced that it would provide local authorities in England with new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area.

Am I eligible for further help through the Hardship Fund?

A further reduction has been applied to all residents who are working age council tax support claimants. The level of support is as follows:

  • If your original bill for the year was over £200, a further reduction of £200 has been applied.

  • If your original bill for the year was under £200, your bill has been reduced to zero.

Do I need to apply for the reduction?

No. If you are a working age council tax support claimant, the reduction will have been automatically applied to your account and will be shown on the revised bill issued to you in May.

My bill shows Council Tax Discretionary Relief, what is this?

This figure represents the reduction you have received under the Hardship Fund.

If I have received a reduction, why are my instalments still starting in June?

The reduction has been split equally across your instalments for the remainder of the year.

Can this money be put towards clearing my council tax arrears instead?

No, the reduction must be applied to the current year’s council tax. However, if your reduced instalments mean you can now afford to increase the amount you pay towards your arrears monthly, please complete an offer of repayment form at www.basingstoke.gov.uk/offer.

I do not currently claim council tax support. Can I claim the same reduction?

No. Reduction under the Hardship Fund has only been applied to working age council tax support claimants. If however you believe you may be entitled to council tax support, please see www.basingstoke.gov.uk/benefitadvice for further information and to make a claim. If your claim is successful and you are of working age, the reduction under the hardship fund will automatically be applied to your account.

What happens if my entitlement/liability changes during the year?

If the amount of council tax support you receive or the amount you are liable to pay changes during the year, your entitlement to the reduction may also change. For example, if your total bill is currently £100, you will receive £100 reduction. If your circumstances change and your total bill goes up to £300, you will receive the maximum £200 reduction. Likewise, if your total bill is currently £200, you will receive the maximum £200 reduction. If your circumstances change and your balance goes below £200, the reduction will also go down to the reduced amount.

Council tax arrears

Please be aware NO council tax direct debits will be taken in April and May for any instalments due on arrears. You will need to make manual payments for any instalments due in April and May.

I have an arrangement in place for my council tax arrears which I can no longer pay

If you have an arrangement in place and you don’t pay the instalments due we will continue to send reminders informing you that you have an instalment outstanding however we will not cancel this arrangement. We will allow you time to bring the instalments up to date. If you are unable to do this then the arrangement will cancel in June and we will inform you of this, at this time you will need to contact us to discuss a new arrangement, this can be done by visiting www.basingstoke.gov.uk/offer or email localtax@basingstoke.gov.uk.

I have arrears on my council tax account which are with an enforcement agent which I can't pay

Please contact the enforcement agents directly, they will be able to discuss your options with you:

Excel

Telephone: 0330 363 9988
Email: info@excelenforcement.co.uk

Rundles

Telephone: 0845 658 5030
Email: info@rundles.org.uk

Ross and Roberts

Telephone: 01458 550480
Email: info@rossandroberts.co.uk

Rossendale's Telephone: 0333 320 2155
Email: generalenquiries@rossendales.com

Bristow and Sutor

Telephone: 0871 677 0070
Visit Bristow and Sutor website for contact details.

I have arrears that I can't pay but are not on an arrangement or with an enforcement agent, what can I do?

Contact us to discuss an arrangement, this can be done by visiting www.basingstoke.gov.uk/offer.

Contact us

  • Contact us online
  • 01256 844844
  • Civic Offices
    London Road
    Basingstoke
    RG21 4AH
  • Opening hours
    Monday to Thursday
    8.30am to 5pm
    Fridays
    8.30am to 4.30pm
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