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 . The 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. 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: Applying for benefit 


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: Council tax discounts 

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

The Government has announced a Hardship Fund. As part of this, every working age household who receives a Council Tax Reduction in 2020/21 will receive an additional reduction to their council tax bill. This means:

  • they will have a reduction to their Council Tax bill by a further £150 (note: this only applies if there is a balance of £150 or more left to pay during 2020/2)

  • that anyone who has less than £150 to pay on their Council Tax balance e.g. £100 left will receive £100 not the £150.

 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  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: Universal Credit - .GOV page

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: Universal Credit - Change of Circumstances  

For details of what constitutes a change, please follow the link above.
 

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 Benefit forms. 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 Housing benefit & council tax reduction 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: 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: Discounts for business rates 

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

Rates support

A number of businesses will receive support through the increase of Expanded Retail Rate Relief, including pubs. This will assist around 1,000 businesses in our district, with a total rates reduction of £27m in this financial year.

In addition to this, the Government have introduced 100% business rates relief for Day Nurseries registered on Ofsted's Early Years Register. This will assist 18 nurseries in the district and reduce their combined rates bill by £250,000.

There is no need for businesses to apply for these reductions and amending bills showing the full reduction will be issued on 15 April 2020.

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

In response to the challenges faced by businesses at this time, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a number of support measures. These include financial help for businesses that receive Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief, or which operate in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in premises with a rateable value below £51,000.

We have been contacting businesses who are eligible for grant funding to let them know how they can access this and to make sure they receive the money as soon as possible. If you are eligible and haven't aready applied, please do so by visiting: Business rates - March 2020 announcements to ensure we have all the details we need to pay you your grant.

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.

For the latest updates regarding the grant payments, visit Business rates - March 2020 announcements

The Chancellor has also promised to hold a full review of business rates. The terms of reference to this review have now been published. 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.

Top-up to business grants fund scheme

The Government has announced that it will be providing local authorities with additional funding to assist small businesses with fixed property related costs.

This is an extension of the Government's existing business rates grant scheme. Businesses that are eligible for this, or who are eligible for the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, will not be able to apply for this additional funding.

We don't have any of the details around this yet, including how much our district will receive or which type of businesses will be eligible. We will update you as soon as we receive the details of the scheme. In the meantime, the Government has published some information here: Gov.uk - Top up to local business grant funds scheme

Further business advice and support can be found at: Business advice & support.