Council Tax Rebate (£150)
Support for energy bills - the council tax rebate 2022-23: billing authority guidance
THE COUNCIL TAX REBATE OFFICIAL RULES.
The government recognises that many households will need support to deal with the rising cost of household bills in 2022-23, driven by increasing energy bills. While these rising costs will affect most households across the country, they are more likely to disproportionately affect those on lower incomes, who tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on utility bills.
To provide some immediate relief for these rising costs, while targeting those most likely to require support, the government expects billing authorities to provide a £150 one-off payment to a liable council tax payer (or an occupant where the property is exempt) where they occupy a property which meets all of the following criteria on 1 April 2022
It is valued in council tax bands A to D. This includes property that is valued in band E but has an alternative valuation band of band D, as a result of the disabled band reduction scheme;
ii. It is someone’s sole or main residence;
iii. It is a chargeable dwelling, or in exemption classes N, S, U or W*
This means that:
Where the council is aware that the liable council tax payer does not occupy the property, they will not be eligible.
Where a property is in exemption classes N (other than HMOs for council tax purposes), S, U or W and the council is able to contact an occupant, the occupant will be eligible for support.
A property that meets all the criteria, but has a nil council tax liability as a result of local council tax support, will be eligible.
A property that has no permanent resident and is someone’s second home will not be eligible.
An unoccupied property (for the purposes of calculating council tax) will not be eligible.
For the purpose of the Council Tax Rebate, a household is a person or group of persons occupying a single dwelling, as defined in section 3 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
Eligibility should be determined based on the position at the end of the day on 1 April 2022.
Where a council has reason to believe that the information they hold about the valuation list, liable taxpayer(s) or residents’ circumstances in respect of 1 April 2022 is inaccurate, they should withhold the payment and take reasonable steps to determine the correct information.
Where records relating to the liable taxpayer(s) or residents’ circumstances in respect of 1 April 2022 are retrospectively updated, councils should take reasonable steps to pay or clawback payments.
Payments should be provided directly from billing authorities to eligible households. Only one £150 payment should be made under the core Council Tax Rebate per household, regardless of the number of occupants or liable council taxpayers.
Where a council holds live direct debit instructions for a liable council tax payer of an eligible household
Where a council holds live direct debit instructions for a liable council taxpayer of an eligible household, they should make an automatic payment as early as possible in the 2022-23 financial year, provided that they are assured that the household is eligible and the bank details have been verified. Where multiple residents of an eligible household are jointly and severally liable for council tax, and a council holds live direct debit instructions for that household, the full £150 payment should be made to the direct debit account. Councils should, as far as possible, exclude any direct debits from automated payments (and follow the steps from paragraph 23 onwards) where the name on the bank details does not match a liable party.
21. Councils should make clear to recipients that the grant is being provided on the assumption that they were a liable council tax payer (or would have been if the property were not exempt) and that the property met the criteria set out at paragraph 11 on 1 April 2022. They should set out that, if this is not the case, the grant may be liable for recovery. They should also make clear that the grant is being provided to support all residents of the household.
22. Councils may wish to take additional steps before payment to prevent erroneous payments and the need for claw back. These may include waiting to make payment until after the first direct debit council tax payment for 2022-23 has been taken on the given live instruction, or asking taxpayers to self-certify that they meet the eligibility criteria. Councils should be aware of the risk of mandate fraud and may want to exercise particular caution where direct debit details have been changed or newly provided since the scheme was announced on 3 February 2022.
Where a council does not hold live direct debit instructions for an eligible household
23. Where a council does not hold live direct debit instructions for an eligible household, the government expects them to make all reasonable efforts to contact the household as early as possible to make them aware of the scheme and invite them to make a claim.
24. Councils can determine an appropriate claims method locally, considering the software solutions available to them, but should include an option for residents who are digitally excluded, for example assisted applications by phone. Payment methods other than BACS are acceptable, but all payments within scope of the reconciliation process should be made by 30 September 2022. As part of the claims process, councils can choose whether to offer £150 credit to an eligible household’s council tax account as a payment option.
25. Councils should ask the claimant to self-certify that they are (or would be in the case of exempt property) a liable taxpayer, that they meet the eligibility criteria at paragraph 11, and that are claiming on behalf of the household. In doing so, councils can refer taxpayers to their powers under section 3(1)(c) of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 to request information for the purposes of identifying the liable taxpayer.
26. Councils should include information on how households can contact them if they have any doubt that it is the council making contact. The government will not tolerate any council tax payer falsifying their records or providing false evidence to gain access to the Council Tax Rebate or Discretionary Fund. A ratepayer who provides false information or makes false representation in order to benefit from the Council Tax Rebate or Discretionary Fund may be guilty of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006. Councils may wish to alert claimants to this as part of the claims process.