Oxford City Council is helping people facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic by giving discounts of up to £250 on their council tax bill.
Working age people with a successful claim for council tax reduction (CTR) this financial year will automatically receive this discount. This means they will either have nothing to pay or their bill will be reduced by up to £250.
More than 2,200 current CTR claimants will have the discount applied to their council tax account this month. They will receive a new bill and a letter stating how much discount they have been given. All new CTR claims until the end of March will also receive the discount.
The discount is being funded through the council’s share of the national £500 million coronavirus hardship fund. The council is giving £100 more than the £150 discount recommended by government as part of its commitment to tackling poverty and inequality in Oxford.
The council is also considering options for introducing a discretionary hardship award for issues not covered by its CTR scheme – for example, where someone has taken on a new tenancy but has not been able to move during the pandemic.
The council is one of only a few English councils retaining 100% support with the cost of council tax for working age households. Since the abolition of national council tax benefit in 2013, nearly 90% of councils have made cuts to their CTR schemes as central government support was phased out. The most common change across England is the introduction of minimum payments that require all households to pay at least a proportion of their council tax.
“We’re committed to supporting Oxford residents who are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic, which is why we’re using our emergency funding to provide £100 more than the discount recommended by government. Any working age person with a successful CTR claim in 2020/21 will automatically get up to £250 off their council tax bill and we’re also looking at ways we can provide extra support for people struggling to pay their council tax.
"The coronavirus pandemic has left a trail of stark inequality in it its wake.This measure will help to alleviate some of the financial difficulties families face at this challenging time."
Councillor Marie Tidball, cabinet member for supporting local communities