Millions in England who will struggle to pay the rising cost of living will receive support to help cover the expenses through a council tax rebate, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, last week.
Regulator Ofgem announced yesterday it will raise the energy price cap by 54% from 1 April, meaning households will see bills increase by around £700 per year.
Customers paying default tariffs by direct debit will see annual bills rise by £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 per year.
Whereas households using prepayment meters – also known as a “pay as you go” system typically used by households with lower incomes – will see an increase of £708 from £1,309 to £2,017.
The Government announced last year that local authorities could hike tax rates by up to 3% without a referendum.
Kirklees Council is set to vote on a council tax increase of 3% and a 2.99% increase in tax in Bradford has been proposed, piling the pressure on already stretched budgets.
Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that households in England in council tax bands A to D will receive a £150 rebate in October, which will impact around 80% of households.
Eligible households will be able to receive the rebate from April and it will not need to be repaid.
The chancellor also announced that from October, all households will receive £200 off their energy bills which will be paid back in equal instalments of £40 over the next five years.
A £144 million separate pot of financial support for vulnerable households in England will be made available to local authorities to give to those who may slip through the net or need additional support. The discretionary fund will help lower-income households who don’t pay council tax or who have homes in bands E to H.
How do I work out my council tax band?
People living in England can find out which council tax band they are in through the Government’s online checker here.
The service can also be used to challenge your council tax band if you think it is incorrect. Households can also challenge your council tax band by calling or emailing the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
Do I need to apply for the tax rebate and when will I receive it?
In most cases, you do not have to apply for the discount as your local authority will automatically recognise if you’re eligible. But how you pay your council tax may affect how quickly you receive the rebate.
The government said it expects the “vast majority” of people who pay by Direct Debit to receive the rebate money in April.
Local authorities will use taxpayers’ bank account details to deposit their account with a one-off payment of £150.
For households in Bands A-D who do not pay by Direct Debit, their councils will be ready to process their claims in April, the government has said.
What are council tax bands?
There are eight council tax bands ranging from A-H.
Mr Sunak said only households in bands A-D in England will be able to receive the £150.
The band your home is in determines how much you pay to the council per month.
The bands are based on what a home might have sold for in April 1991. Even if the property you live in was built more recently, its band is still based on an estimation of what its value would have been in 1991.
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis said: “The £150 money towards council tax bills for those in bands A to D in England (and similar funds for the rest of the UK) is a welcome boost – and a clever mechanism to target lower and middle-income households, rather than individuals.
“Yet it is far from a perfect solution and will leave some getting help when they’ve high incomes and others with low incomes missing out.”
Energy regulator Ofgem said the steep price hike will be “extremely worrying for many people” and advised customers who are struggling to contact their supplier to access the support available as soon as possible.