Growing numbers told they won't get £150 council tax rebate this month with further delays expected – but set up your direct debit now
People should brace for the prospect that their £150 council tax rebate might not come in April, with reports of one council informing thousands of residents that a "software issue" is holding the payments up. But make sure you set up a direct debit in the meantime to prevent further delays.
Those living in council tax bands A to D in England will receive a £150 non-repayable support payment to help with spiralling energy bills. There are also similar schemes for people in Wales and Scotland (council tax isn't paid in Northern Ireland).
Residents were told they could expect the payments in April when the scheme was first announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in February. But this is now looking unlikely for some people.
Not sure if your home qualifies for the rebate? You can check your council tax band on the UK Government website if you live in England or Wales and via the Scottish Assessors' Association if you live in Scotland.
You may also be missing out on other council tax discounts – if you live alone, for example. See our Council tax discounts guide for full details.
Council tax rebate delays blamed on 'software'
One MoneySaver has passed on a letter they received from their council, South Derbyshire, which stated that payments would not be made until "at least June" because of "software" issues (see the letter below). The letter, sent to 39,000 people, also said there could be further delays.
We asked South Derbyshire District Council for comment and a spokesperson said it is working with software firm Capita to get people the rebate: "The earliest that they [Capita] can provide the software that will allow us to distribute the £150 rebate is late April.
"This software will require thorough testing before it can be used. If all goes well with the testing, residents can expect to receive their £150 rebate in late May or early June."
Another MoneySaver told MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) that their local authority, Portsmouth City Council, had told them they would not receive their payment until September. We contacted Portsmouth City Council to see if that was the case – we're awaiting its response, but its website says that direct debit users will start to get the rebate towards the end of April, while it will contact those who don't pay by direct debit throughout May and June.
Here's the letter from South Derbyshire Council:
Councils officially have until 30 September to pay the council tax rebate
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities told MSE that councils are responsible for choosing how they run their claims processes, including which software supplier they use.
It said: "The exact timing of payments will vary between councils but many are aiming to pay eligible households in April, where they already hold their bank account details."
The guidance issued to councils is that payments should be made by 30 September 2022 but the hope was that the majority would receive the money this month. Manchester City Council, for example, told MSE that residents who pay by direct debit should get their payments during the week starting 18 April.
A poll set up by Martin highlights the payment delays
Thousands responded to MSE founder Martin Lewis's Twitter poll on Friday 8 April asking whether people had received the rebate – here are the findings:
Set up a direct debit now to avoid further council tax rebate delays
In England, there is not a lot you can do to speed up the payment. But one way to ensure you receive the rebate as soon as possible is to set up a direct debit now with your council if you can. To do this, head to your council's website – how to set one up varies but you'll usually have to log in and follow the instructions.
Setting up a direct debit will mean that you don't have to wait for your council to invite you to make a claim and that it has your bank details to make the payment automatically. You can choose to end your direct debit agreement with your local authority once you've received the payment if you want to.
If you choose not to set up a direct debit but qualify for the payment, you'll still receive it, but there may be a delay as it's up to your local authority to contact you to arrange it. This might be in addition to any delays caused by late software installations.
Households in Scotland will get their payments in a similar way to households in England if they pay their council tax through direct debit. However, Scottish councils will be able to decide whether to give households the £150 as a cash payment or credit off council tax bills.
The Welsh Government is yet to provide details on how households can receive the support payment.
What if I don't qualify for the council tax rebate?
If your property isn't in bands A to D, you may be eligible for support from a separate £144 million discretionary fund in England. This is for local authorities to give to those who may slip through the net or need additional support. For example, to help vulnerable people and individuals on low incomes who do not pay council tax, or who have homes in bands E to H.
You won't get the funding automatically; you'll need to check that you qualify with your local authority.
There is no separate discretionary funding for those in Scotland and Wales. However, for more information on council tax and how some can lower their council tax band and save £1,000s, see our Council tax bands guide, which also includes details of council tax discounts you may not be claiming. You should also check if you've overpaid council tax as you may be due a refund.
Help if you're struggling to pay energy bills
If you're struggling with the rising cost of energy and bills, see the following guides: