In this section, you will find some frequently asked questions and answers for our revenues and benefits customers, which may be particularly helpful at this time. The Government has announced a number of new measures to help support employees, benefit claimants and businesses. You can find out more about this at: www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businessesThe situation is changing frequently and the latest advice can be found on the Government's website.

Q. I need to access one of your services or contact a member of the Revenues and Benefits team. How should I do this?

A. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we are urging members of the public to only come into our offices if absolutely vital.

Whether you're a council tax, business rates or benefits customer, you can access all of our services 24/7on our website through 'My Account'. Simply visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount and select the service you need.

Because the Government has said that people should work from home as much as possible, we are currently getting as many as our officers working from home as possible to ensure that we get housing benefit paid and council tax reduction applied to accounts. We ask that you contact by email where you can on: benefits@chichester.gov.uk and use our online services to make claims, update us of changes and to check payments. If you do need to call us, or if someone you know doesn't have access to the internet, they can call 01243 785166. Please be patient as we are working hard to ensure that we have as many people answering calls as possible, however you will probably still have to wait for longer than we would normally like.

We will only be sending letters and bills out once a week. Where possible, we are asking customers to sign up for online letters and bills. To do this, simply go to www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount and select the service that you need.

 

Q. I am a council tax, benefits and/or business rates customer. Can I access your services online?

A. Yes — whether you are a council tax, business rates or benefits customer, you can access all of our services 24/7on our website through 'My Account'.

By using 'My Account' on our website, you can:

  • manage payments, including setting up a direct debit
  • access council tax or business rates records
  • advise us of a change of address
  • view account details and recent bills
  • claim housing benefit or council tax reduction
  • report a change in your circumstances for housing benefit or council tax reduction, and
  • update personal details

Simply visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount and select the service you need.
 

Q. I am a resident and need financial help to pay my bills. What can I do?

A. If you are on a low income or are out of work, you can claim Universal Credit.

However, if you:

  • receive a Severe Disability Premium,
  • you are a pensioner,  and/or
  • you live in temporary accommodation.

Then you would need to claim housing benefit and/or council tax reduction from us instead.

For help with council tax bills, please see the information below.
 

Q. How can I apply for housing benefit?

A. Residents who are on a low income or are out of work, and who are not entitled to Universal Credit, can claim housing benefit.

To do this, please visit: www.chichester.gov.uk/applyforbenefit



Q. How can I apply for Council Tax Reduction or access other help with my council tax bill?

The council offers a number of discounts for council tax payers, and you can see these options here: www.chichester.gov.uk/counciltaxdiscount.

One of the options is to apply for Council Tax Reduction. This is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings.

If you are already claiming Council Tax Reduction, the Government has announced a Hardship Fund to support residents who are struggling financially. Residents who are eligible for the support will have their award automatically credited to their council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April.

If you apply or have applied, and you receive a reduction but are still concerned about making payments, we urge you to contact us to discuss the options available. Please email: taxation@chichester.gov.uk
 

Q. I receive housing benefit and/or council tax reduction. Do I need to update you of a change in circumstance?

A. Yes please. It is important that you let us know about any change in your circumstances. This is quick and easy to do. You can do this by visiting www.chichester.gov.uk/article/29353/Change-of-circumstances


If your income has changed as a result of coronavirus don't forget to tell us so that your award can be amended. The easiest way to do this is online please visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount


You do not need to contact us if your circumstances have not changed. If you are eligible for financial support as part of the Government's Hardship Fund, you will have your award automatically credited to your council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April.

 

Q. How do I find out more about Universal Credit?

A. You can find further information about Universal Credit  online at: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Universal Credit can be contacted by calling the Universal Credit helpline on: 0800 328 5644 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)

If you are already a Universal Credit customer, you can also contact them through your online account.
 

Q. I currently receive Universal Credit. Do I need to notify anyone of a change in circumstance?

A. Yes. You should notify the Department for Works and Pensions of any changes in your circumstances. You can do this by visiting: www.gov.uk/universal-credit/changes-of-circumstances

For details of what constitutes a change, please following the link: www.gov.uk/universal-credit/changes-of-circumstances
 

Q. I receive housing benefit/Universal Credit but am still having difficulty meeting my rent payments. Is there any extra help I can access?
 

A. You may be able to access extra help from the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Fund. This money is there to help people with their housing costs and is available to people in receipt of housing benefit or those who have housing costs included in their Universal Credit award, and where someone has a shortfall between the rent that they are eligible to pay and the amount of benefit that they receive. This can be applied for online at www.chichester.gov.uk/benefitforms#dhp. If you have been in receipt of Discretionary Housing Payment in March 2020, we will consider an extension to your award to avoid you having to reclaim at this time. We will contact you with details about this if you are affected.

The Government has increased Local Housing Allowance rates as an emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak. This will increase your housing benefit or universal credit payment if you rent privately. The new rates have been published for details visit www.chichester.gov.uk/counciltaxreduction We are working on updating our system this week and letters advising you of your new housing benefit award will be issued shortly. It would assist us if you could sign up to receive your benefit letters and council tax bills online. To find out more visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount.

You may also be able to access Council Tax Reduction on your council tax, which is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings. The Government has announced a Hardship Fund to support residents who are struggling financially. Residents who are eligible for the support will have their award automatically credited to their council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April. If you do not receive 'Council Tax Reduction' and think you may be eligible, please visit our website for further details and to make an online application www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount. Residents who are experiencing difficulties paying their council tax are encouraged to contact the us to discuss the options available to them. You can also find out more information at: www.chichester.gov.uk/article/24588/Council-tax-payment-difficulties

 

Q. I am a district business. Can I access help with my business rates?

A. The council offers a number of business rate reductions, which you may be able to access. For more information, please visit: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/businessratesdiscounts

In addition to this, the Government has announced new measures to support businesses during this challenging time. These include:

Retail relief discount increased

The retail relief discount will be increased to 100%of the business rate charge for all retail businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000. This discount will now also be extended to leisure and hospitality businesses, as well as nurseries. This increase in retail discount will mean a total rates reduction across the district in 2020/21 of around £5.5m and will assist around 600 businesses.

We are waiting for further guidance from the Government around the implementation of these new measures. Once this has been received and the appropriate software changes have been made to our systems, amended business rates bills showing the full reduction will be issued in early April 2020.

For the latest updates on retail relief please visit www.chichester.gov.uk/businessratesmarch2020

Pub relief reintroduced

The Government has also reintroduced Pub Relief from April 2020. Previously this was set at £1,000 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000. However, for 2020/21, this will be increased to a £5,000 discount in business rates. In addition to this, any pub with a rateable value of less than £51,000 won't be required to pay rates for 2020/21 due to the increase in retail relief to 100%. 

Approximately 99 pubs in our district will receive a reduction following these budget changes. Of these, 79 won't pay rates for 2020/21, and 20 will receive the £5,000 discount.

Grants for those who receive Small Business Rate Relief, Rural Rate Relief and retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses operating from small premises.

The Government have also announced that businesses who currently receive Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief will receive a one off £10,000 cash grant. There will be an online link set up for eligible businesses to use to apply for these grants. Businesses will be contacted by letter to their billing address but the link will also be on this website as soon as it is available.

The number of businesses within the district who currently receive either Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief is around 2,200. This could mean a total grant payment to businesses in our district of £22m. 

A cash grant of £25,000 will be paid to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000. There will be an online link set up for eligible businesses to use to apply for these grants. Businesses will be contacted by letter to their billing address but the link will also be on this website as soon as it is available.

The number of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000 within the district is around 400. This could mean a total grant payment to businesses in our district of £10m

The Government have confirmed that local authorities will be fully compensated for the cost of these schemes through the usual section 31 grant.

The grants are expected to be paid in April. For the latest updates regarding the grant payments, visit www.chichester.gov.uk/businessratesmarch2020

The Chancellor has also promised to hold a full review of business rates. The terms of reference to this review have now been published. www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-review-terms-of-reference

The review will focus on improving the current business rates system in the short to medium term, although major changes to the system are not expected before 2025.

Further business advice and support can be found at:www.chichester.gov.uk/businessadviceandsupport