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New figures reveal over 7,500 households in Newcastle could miss out on £150 council tax rebate

March 29, 2022 4:17 PM

Cllr Robin AshbyThousands of families in Newcastle may miss out on the Government's £150 council tax rebate to help with soaring energy bills, new figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

115,277 properties across the area are in council tax bands A-D and so are eligible for the £150 rebate. But the government's financial watchdog estimates that around a third of these will not be paying their council tax bill by Direct Debit and therefore won't automatically benefit from the help.

Of these, around 80% are expected to apply for the rebate, the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast.

It leaves around 7,620 families in Newcastle liable to miss out on the £150 support. Meanwhile, the Treasury is set to rake in over £1 million from this lack of take-up in the area - a slice of the £195m they are set to make across the country.

Local Liberal Democrats are demanding that the Government fully fund councils to help them process the scheme. As a last resort, the Government must also be prepared to post a £150 cheque to each eligible household in Newcastle that doesn't receive the council tax rebate as a last resort, to ensure no-one misses out.

Cllr Robin Ashby, for Newcastle Liberal Democrats, said:

"It is staggering that thousands of Newcastle families could miss out because of this Conservative Government's half-baked plans. I worry for those who are older and less well off who are likely to be disproportionately impacted by this because they don't pay their council tax by direct debit.

"People are facing sky-rocketing bills and plummeting living standards, but it looks like even the meagre support on offer from the Conservatives might not reach those who need it most locally.

"The Government must provide more support to councils to roll out this rebate and ensure every eligible household can benefit. As a last resort, ministers should also commit to sending a £150 cheque in the post to anyone in our area that misses out.

"No-one should go without the help they need because of this Conservative Government's incompetence."

Data Source: Office for Budget Responsibility, Economic and Fiscal Outlook (p.201 and 203).

"Weighing up all these factors, we assume 80 per cent take-up among those that do not use direct debit. This implies that around 7 per cent of the total £2.9 billion spending allocation will not be paid out to eligible households, amounting to £0.2 billion."

The report predicts that the Treasury is set to rake in £195 million from lack of take-up of the government's flagship scheme.

The OBR estimates that two-thirds of council tax payers use direct debit and therefore will automatically benefit.

It then estimates a take-up rate of 80% among those who don't use direct debit. This leaves 20% of households who won't benefit from the scheme.

The watchdog says this implies that around seven per cent of the total £2.9 billion of funding for the scheme will not be paid out to eligible households, amounting to savings of £195 million. That is equivalent to 1.3 million families missing out on the £150 per council tax rebate.