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Help if you can’t pay your Council Tax

by Gemma Melling

There is a range of financial support for individuals affected by the Coronavirus outbreak – this is a fast moving situation and more advice is being announced daily.

Council tax for this year is due to be paid from April. If you can, please pay your bill promptly so that we can continue to provide essential services to our residents. The easiest way to pay is online.

However, if you are unable to pay there are a number of ways that we can help.

Help if you can’t afford to pay your Council Tax

Council Tax Hardship Fund

In March 2020, the Government announced additional support for Working Age residents qualifying for support under the local Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

This means that every household in receipt of Working Age Council Tax Reduction will receive a further discount of £150 or if after any other discounts/reductions their Council Tax liability is less than £150, an amount to reduce their bill to nil. There is no need to make a claim for this additional discount, it will be calculated automatically and you will receive a new bill to show the remaining balance on your account and any revised instalments.

If you have not claimed a reduction but you are in receipt of benefit, have recently lost your job or are on a low income it is important that you claim a Council Tax Reduction as soon as possible.

How can I find out if I am receiving Council Tax Reduction?

Check your Council Tax bill or look at your account online.

If you are not in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, but think you may qualify, apply online now.

You’ll find the application form on the Knowsley Council website. If you are unable to claim online, then call 0151 443 4042 and the council will arrange for a benefit assessor to help you fill in the form.

If you don’t think that you will qualify for benefit but are still struggling we can still try to help.

If you are worried about paying your Council Tax

Knowsley Council are looking at different ways to help vulnerable residents through this difficult time. If you have been affected by recent events and are worried about your Council Tax please contact us.

Information about how you can access free and independent financial advice is available on the council’s website.

I can’t pay my instalment in April. Can I move my first instalment to May?

Yes, if you are worried about paying your first instalment in April, Knowsley Councilcan offer you a different payment plan. Unless you qualify for benefit you will still need to pay the full amount on your bill but we can defer your first payment. Please contact us at local.taxation@knowsley.gov.uk.

Can I change the date of my payment?

Yes – you can change the date of your payment and the method of payment by signing into your account online.

Can I pay over 12 months rather than 10?

If you are currently paying over 10 instalments you can ask us to spread the cost of your Council Tax over 12 months (April to March). You can also do this online using the link above.

Will you take me to court if I miss my first payment?

If you think that you will struggle to pay but are not entitled to benefit, the Council will try to be as flexible as possible by offering financial advice, changing your payment date and delaying any recovery action. It is important that you contact the council as soon as possible.

Can I speak with someone on the telephone?

Yes – you can speak to a member of staff on 0151 443 4476 or e-mail local.taxation@knowsley.gov.uk. The council is currently experiencing an increased number of enquires at this time so please be patient. It will do its best to respond to you as quickly as possible.

The council is here to help

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said “I understand that it is a worrying time for our residents and that’s why we have stepped in to support our those who are on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. There is also a range of other support available such as spreading our your payments over 12 months rather than 10 months and our staff in the Council Tax team are available to provide advice around your own circumstances.”