South Tyneside pensioners missing out on Council Tax help

A record low number of pensioners in South Tyneside are using a Government scheme to help pay their council tax bill during the coronavirus crisis.

By Katie William
Friday, 21st August 2020, 10:45 am
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 10:46 am
Pensioners ion South Tyneside are missing out on help with their Council Tax bills
Pensioners ion South Tyneside are missing out on help with their Council Tax bills

Low-income households and pensioners can apply for a discount or exemption on their council tax under the Council Tax Reduction scheme and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show that 7,671 pensioners in the borough were claiming support in the three months to June – the lowest number for any quarter since 2015/16 and a four per cent drop compared to the same period last year.

The number of working age residents claiming a council tax reduction rose to 12,020 from 11,876.

Nationally, the total number of claimants reached four million between April and June, up from 3.9 million in 2019.

Anti-poverty charity Turn2us warned many people are missing out on the benefit.

Sara Willcocks, head of external affairs at Turn2us, said: "While it is good news that there has been a modest uptake in people getting discounts on their bills, there are still thousands who are missing out.

"The coronavirus pandemic has pushed millions into financially precarious position and we expect to see more and more people needing this benefit over the next few months.”

She added: “Local councils must be supported so they have the money and resources to help people struggling."

Separate figures from the MCHLG reveal in the three months to June, South Tyneside Borough Council raised £18.5m through council tax – down from £​19.8m on the same period in 2019.

Richard Watts, of the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are facing increased cost and demand pressures at the same time as experiencing a significant drop in income.”.

“The funding already received from the Government has been a positive step but extra cost pressures on local authorities must be met by Westminster to avoid cuts to services.

A Government spokesperson said: “We’re giving councils unprecedented support during the pandemic.

"This includes £4.3bn, compensation for irrecoverable income losses and a scheme allowing them to spread their tax deficits."