Quarter of Kirklees households are still waiting for £150 council tax energy rebate

A quarter of households in Kirklees that are eligible for a £150 payment as part of the Government’s Council Tax Energy Rebate scheme have still not been paid, according to council bosses.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 6:00 am

But they have stressed that “no citizen will miss out” as staff send out letters to those people who don’t pay their council tax by direct debit and therefore need to apply individually for the rebate via an energy rebate application form

The Government announced the 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.

For households in band A-D properties that pay council tax by direct debit, the cash was automatically paid into bank accounts.

The Government announced the 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

A total of 160,909 households in Kirklees are eligible for the money, which does not need to be repaid.

It is administered by local authorities such as Kirklees, which must shoulder the burden of paying and determine how to reach non-direct debit payers.

Senior councillor Paul Davies (Lab, Holme Valley South), the council’s cabinet member for corporate, said a total of 121,160 households had been paid as of July 8, leaving 40,000 still to be paid.

He said a “test batch” of 4,000 letters were sent out on July 12 inviting people to apply for the money.

He added: “Once we understand the demand for assistance completing forms, we intend to start sending large batches out over the next few weeks.

“No citizen will miss out. Where we are not able to make contact, the rebate will be applied to their council tax account, ready for refund on contact.

"After the main burden of the administrative work has completed, work will then take place to try and reach these citizens.”

Coun Davies was responding to questions from the Lib Dems’ Coun Andrew Marchington (Golcar). He said it was concerning that some of the most vulnerable people in the district were still waiting on urgently needed cash.

The group has previously raised concerns about the speed of payments.

Asked what has been done to ensure that households without digital access have been able to receive £150 rebate, Coun Davies said where possible the process had been automated in order that households need have no contact at all.

Of the council’s 96,000 direct debit customers, all but 8,000 received their payment automatically. The remaining 8,000 received letters advising how to apply and “fell out of the direct debit process” because of the security checks that the authority had in place.

He said a phone team has been set up for assisted form completion, and people attending customer service centres or telephoning Kirklees Direct are put on the phones with that team.

Coun Davies added: “We have had to write to customers in batches to be able to accommodate enquires. The remaining 40,000 will be written to over the next six to eight weeks advising them how to apply.

“Communication about the rebate has been issued widely across all Kirklees channels as well as third sector partners to encourage as many citizens as possible to apply for payment.

"Where we act as appointee for citizens, we are currently putting processes in place to make payment.”

Coun Marchington said: “Given that the £150 energy rebate was announced on February 3 and the money became available at the beginning of April, it is concerning that 40,000 households are still waiting to receive payment.

“Whilst accepting that no one will miss out in the long run, some of the most vulnerable residents in Kirklees, those who do not have access to the internet or choose to pay their bills at their local post offices, have not got £150 they could be using to pay their bills now.

"It sounds like it might take a further two months to get this sorted out.”