District Dispatch - 1 March 2023
Next month, we will be issuing the annual council tax bills to residents across the district. We know that for people on low incomes, paying council tax on top of the cost of living can be a struggle.
Our local tax reduction scheme supports those on low incomes with up to 100% of the total cost of council tax. We also have a discretionary scheme to assist those disadvantaged by the banded scheme for those in receipt of universal credit or those who are care leavers.
This year, the Government has also provided some additional funding to councils to pay up to an additional £25 in support of those in receipt of council tax reduction. This will automatically be applied to accounts for those who are eligible as part of the billing process, and this will be credited to council tax bills for 2023-24. This additional funding also means that we can create our own schemes to support those impacted by the rise in the cost of living. Our discretionary scheme will open on 1 April 2023 and our newly created Supporting You team will administer this fund. It is just one of the many ways that the team can provide practical support to those who may be struggling financially and make sure that they are accessing the support that is available.
It's also worth being aware that West Sussex County Council is also awarding up to £25 to those who are working age and are in receipt of council tax reduction. This will also be automatically applied to council tax accounts for those who are eligible.
We are so proud of the work that our Supporting You team is delivering. They are having an incredibly positive impact on the lives of our residents who are struggling with a wide range of issues. The team attend a range of events across the district, and they also work closely with our partners, including Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester; Citizens' Advice; local housing associations and West Sussex County Council. We meet regularly with these partners to review the impact of the service and the feedback that we are receiving. The team also meets individually with people who have requested help or who have been referred to the service.
The team has supported people who are struggling financially; who have been evicted from their homes; or who just need a helping hand to get back on track. They have seen people who are struggling with their finances, and are also dealing with other challenges, such as domestic abuse, alcohol addiction, terminal illness and eviction. The team have not only been able to help them financially and make sure that they access housing advice, but they are also making sure that they are getting support from a wide range of agencies. This approach has literally changed lives and means that those most in need are getting the support that they need.
We also have a system called TellJo. This sends customers a text message and an email if they have missed a payment asking them if they are okay. In most cases, customers respond to provide us with more details, and this enables us to provide them with the help that they need. This includes: debt advice, housing advice, counselling, payment plans; benefit advice; and access to our social prescribing service.
All of these approaches are making sure that those who need our support the most are accessing it. If you want to find out more, or want to get in touch with our Supporting You team, they can be contacted by visiting our Supporting You team webpage; emailing: email@example.com; or calling 01243 534860.
Please also don't forget to have a look at our Supporting You campaign, which highlights the support available to everyone during the cost-of-living crisis. We have a wealth of information on our Supporting You webpages.
Cllr Eileen Lintill
Leader of Chichester District Council