Support for people struggling financially due to the Coronavirus pandemic
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are putting a range of measures in place to help people who are being affected financially by the Coronavirus pandemic, including support for individuals and for businesses.
Support for individuals – council tax
Hardship fund for people on Council Tax Reduction
The government has confirmed details of a £500million hardship fund. Under this scheme, people in receipt of Council Tax Reduction will receive a minimum of £150 off their council tax bill for 2020/2021, unless their bill is less than £150, in which case their bill will be reduced to zero. This is in addition to any support they already receive.
The councils are now working to confirm the amount each individual qualifying household will receive off their bill – as soon as this is complete, revised bills will be issued.
Council tax payments
Where possible, people should continue to pay their bills as normal. If someone is genuinely having difficulty paying their council tax, they should contact our council tax team on:
- South residents – firstname.lastname@example.org / 0345 302 2313
- Vale residents – email@example.com / 0345 302 2315
People who are currently not being paid, and are struggling to pay their bill, are encouraged to apply for Council Tax Reduction – their account will then be put on hold for 30 days while their application is processed.
Advice and support for businesses
The councils are prioritising awarding the extensions to retail rate relief to existing accounts and working to identify eligible ratepayers. Work has also taken place to identify and collate the necessary information to allow the councils to pay Small Business and Retail Grants.
Letters have gone out to ratepayers who we believe qualify. To claim a grant, businesses should complete the required form which can be found at:
- South business – www.southoxon.gov.uk/businessrates
- Vale business – www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/businessrates
Payments will begin to be processed from week commencing 6 April.
Those that can pay their bills should do so as normal, however those businesses who are genuinely having difficulty paying their business rates should contact our business rates team via:
- South business – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vale businesses – email@example.com
The South & Vale Business Support team publishes the latest government advice and support on svbs.co.uk and via twitter (@TeamSVBS), including about rates relief and business support grants. Business can also sign up to receive an e-newsletter via the website.
The website also lists the latest job vacancies for individuals seeking temporary employment, exercises to stay healthy while working from home, and links to mental health organisations.
The government has advised those who are self-employed who are in urgent need of financial assistance to apply for Universal Credit and Council Tax Reduction. This will provide them with support until a grant for the self-employed becomes available in June.
Cllr Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We are working hard to put measures into place to provide urgent assistance to council tax-payers and businesses that have been badly affected by the pandemic. Thank you to everyone for their patience during this time. Following each announcement, we have to wait for government guidance and these schemes can take time to set up and check who is eligible.”
Cllr Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet Member for Finance at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We know this is an extremely challenging and worrying time for many people. We hope that the measures we are putting in place will help to put people’s minds a little more at ease. Above all though, our advice is, if you are struggling to pay please get in touch with our council tax or business rates teams and they will do their best to help you.”