Kirklees Council says initial payments “are currently being made” to those who pay their bill by direct debit. Just under 95,000 people have been confirmed as eligible and can expect to receive the money between now and May 23.
But members of the public who do not pay their council tax by direct debit – around 62,000 households in Kirklees – will need to apply individually for the rebate via an energy rebate application form, which the council aims to make live “soon after” May 23.
The authority says it is currently working to make the process “as streamlined as possible”, enabling the rebate to be paid into in people’s bank accounts within two weeks of a successful application.
The Government announced the Council Tax Energy Rebate Scheme in February as a one-off payment to help people shoulder the burden of cost of living rises caused by huge hikes in energy bills.
The payment will be automatically paid into the bank account of households in band A-D properties that pay council tax by direct debit. A total of 160,909 households in Kirklees are eligible for the money, which does not need to be repaid.
There had been expectations that payments could be made from April. However, the process for issuing the rebate to direct debit payers is still subject to checks due to the Government’s assurance processes.
If any issues have been flagged during this process – for example, if the latest direct debit payment failed, or a successful payment has not yet been taken – the council will be contacting people directly.
Over the next few weeks the council aims to pay out more than £14m – around £1.5m per day. It also expects to process around 10,000 applications per day once the energy rebate system goes live.
The council has pledged to make provision for anyone experiencing problems with the application process, such as those who cannot provide a registered bank account. There will also be “dedicated support” available for anyone who struggles to use digital devices or the internet.
It says while payments are still being processed, those in most urgent need of financial aid are also receiving crisis support through the council’s Local Welfare Provision. Any support provided between now and the rebate payment is additional to the rebate itself.
Coun Paul Davies (Lab, Holme Valley South), the council’s cabinet member for corporate, said: “Arranging for this amount of money to be dispensed quickly and efficiently is a big job, but we’re absolutely committed to making sure the rebate benefits every single eligible household.”
Conservative deputy leader Coun John Taylor (Con, Kirkburton) said he was glad payments were now being made after the money had “sat in the council’s coffers” for more than a month.
He said: “I would hope that the council is using the faster payments system to get the monies to people quickly and not BACs like they did for the Covid grants, which takes three days.”
Lib Dem group leader Coun John Lawson (Cleckheaton) described the rebate as “a sticking plaster” for anticipated energy price rises in the autumn.
He said: “I’m glad to hear that the rebates are finally going to be paid soon.
"The concept was always a blunt instrument with those in desperate need left to wait in line with better-off residents who could perhaps wait a little longer. I’d like to know if it was possible for Kirklees to finesse and target the timing of the payments.
“Food banks are now being asked for food that doesn’t need cooking because of energy costs.
"It’s time for Government at all levels to get serious about the cost of living crisis.”