What is a Council Tax Reduction Hardship Assistance?
Council Tax Reduction Hardship Assistance is an extra amount we may be able to pay if your Council Tax Reduction discount doesn’t cover your full Council Tax charge (excluding any costs) and you are struggling to afford to pay the difference. Any award will be tailored to your specific circumstances, including your income and expenditure.
What happens next?
When we receive your completed application, we may contact you to discuss your circumstances. This is mainly done over the phone, but if a face-to-face meeting is required, we can arrange an appointment at our offices at Southwater. This will help us get a clear understanding of the reasons for your application, collect any further information and discuss any help or advice that may be available to you.
We will write to you to explain our decision. This letter will tell you whether we are able to give you any help, and if so, for how long. We will also give you advice on what you can do to improve your financial circumstances.
What do I do if I disagree with your decision?
You will need to write to us within one month of our decision letter and explain why you think our decision is wrong. Another Officer will look at your application and may need to contact you for more information. They will then write to you to give you their decision.
How will you pay the Council Tax Reduction Hardship Assistance Award?
If we decide to make an award, we will pay this directly to your Council Tax account.
What happens if my circumstances change?
You need to contact us straight away if your circumstances change. We will then look again at our decision and may need to reduce or stop your award. For more information on reporting a change in your circumstances, please view our change in circumstances page.
What can I do if I am struggling to pay my rent?
Review all of your expenditure
It may be that you need to budget better, reduce your none-essential expenditure or check that you are not paying more than you need to for essential expenditure.
The following organisations are able to offer advice on budgeting:
- Citizens Advice helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent advice. Visit the Citizens Advice website.
- Age UK - Age Concern and Help the Aged have joined forces to become Age UK. They provide a wide range of information and advice. Visit the Age UK website.
- Money Advice Service are an independent service set up by the Government to help people make the most of their money. They give free and unbiased money advice. Visit the Money Advice Service website.
Check to see if you can increase your income
Are you receiving all the benefits or grants you are entitled to? Could you or your partner take a job or work additional hours? Could other family members who live with you, for example a grown-up son or daughter, contribute more to your household expenses? Could you take on a lodger? Could you make an arrangement to receive child maintenance? Details of how to make a child maintenance arrangement can be found on the GOV.UK website.
The following organisations can help you check if you are in receipt of the benefits you are entitled to:
- Turn2us is a charitable service that helps people access the money available to them through welfare benefits, grants and other help. Visit the Turn2us website
- entitledto is a provider of online benefit calculators that people can use to check their benefit entitlement and to see if they may be entitled to other types of benefits. These calculators can be accessed on the entitledto website.
Please remember to notify the Council's Benefit Service if you have a change in your income or household circumstances. For more information on reporting a change in your circumstances, please view our change in circumstances page.
Consider speaking to your landlord
If you rent from a private landlord, they may be willing to reduce your rent, perhaps for a short time, whilst you get your finances back on track. Not all landlords can afford or will be able to do this - but it is worth asking. If you rent from a social landlord, they are often able to offer wide-ranging support e.g. budgeting advice, benefit advice, etc.
Further advice on debt and saving money
If you are worried about debt, please contact one of the following organisations, who can give free and confidential advice.
- Step Change offer tailored advice and practical solutions to help people manage their debt and make a fresh start. They can be contacted on 0800 138 1111 (this is a freephone, including all mobiles) or visit the Step Change website.
- National Debt Line is a helpline that provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. They can be contacted on 0808 808 4000 or visit the National Debtline website.
You may also wish to consider the following to help you save money:
Gas/Electric - if you are on certain benefits, your utility provider may be able to offer a discount. Each provider has their own criteria, so check their website or telephone them.
Check that you are not using more gas or electricity than you need to. For example, switch off any electrical equipment you are not using or see if you can turn down your heating thermostat. The energy saving trust can give you independent advice on saving energy. Visit the Energy Saving Trust website.
You can compare gas and electricity suppliers to find the cheapest energy prices at Switch Telford. Please visit the Switch Telford website for more information on this free and independent service or call 0800 188 4969.
Broadband/TV packages - if you are struggling financially, you may need to make a decision about whether you can afford any broadband or TV packages you have. Check to see if your current package offers the best value. Are there, for example, any channels you don't use? You can compare the cost of TV packages on the uSwitch website. Your current supplier may also be willing to reduce the cost of your package, so you could try contacting them. You will need to check that if you cancel or reduce your package, you are not still in a contract period that may mean you are still charged for the original package.
Mobile telephones - review your mobile telephone contract to ensure that you are on the best tariff for you. Are you in a contract paying for minutes, texts or data that you don't use? If you are struggling financially, you may need to consider reducing any non-essential usage. You also need to consider whether pay-as-you-go or a contract is best for you. You can compare mobile phone contracts, including SIM-only deals, on the uSwitch website.
Pets - if you are a pet owner, the PDSA may be able to offer free/reduced veterinary fees for pet owners who are on a low income. Details can be found on the PDSA website.
Last updated: 9.56am on Monday 27 January 2020