DEFERRALS or amendments to council tax payments are available for residents struggling to cope financially during the coronavirus lockdown, says Bromsgrove District Council.
Councillor Peter McDonald, leader of the Bromsgrove Labour Group, had urged the council to follow the lead of other local authorities by deferring council tax payments by two months.
In response, the council says the facility to defer payments is available but cases must be dealt with on an individual basis.
Cllr McDonald, who represents Rubery North had said: “At a time when thousands of residents are furloughed and finding it hard to make ends meet I have asked Bromsgrove District Council to defer council tax payments for two months and the outstanding amount be divided amongst the remaining months of the year.
“Other authorities have managed to do this and I feel very strongly that the District Council should do the same.”
A response from the council outlined the measures of support on offer to residents.
Jayne Pickering, Bromsgrove District Council’s director of finance and resources, said: “We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for many of our residents and if you are struggling to pay your council tax there is support available.
“If you wish to change or defer your payment instalments please contact us. We will answer your call as quickly as possible, but please be aware we are experiencing a high volume of calls at the moment.
“It may also be helpful for you to check our website to ensure you have claimed all the benefits you are entitled to.
“For working age families this is Universal Credit from the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), and Council Tax Support or Housing Benefit from the council.
“There is up to an additional £150 in relation to Council Tax Support as part of a new Government initiative. Please see our website for more details.
“We will not be sending reminders for Council Tax payments in April. If you have not been able to pay we will email or write to you to advise what support is available.”
Cllr McDonald, meanwhile, has called upon the government to provide financial aid to all councils, given council tax income will likely fall due to increased Universal Credit applications during the pandemic.
He said: “The seriousness of this cannot be underestimated, this will mean cuts in services at a time most services have been cut to the bone or gone completely.
“The government needs to give local authorities further financial support not just now, but in the future to ensure we can get over this crisis without any cuts to services which will not only damage a fragile economy but put people’s lives at risk.
“Financial support for local authorities must be part of the government’s exit strategy else the local economy along with much needed public services will be devastated.”