Energy rebates of £150 could be ‘simpler managed’ as thousands face payment uncertainty

The leader of the East Riding Council said payments of £150 to households to help meet rising energy costs could be more simply managed as thousands of people locally face the uncertainty as to their reception.

Council leader Cllr Jonathan Owen said paying council tax refunds by direct debit made the process more difficult because the authority does not hold bank details for around 30,000 people. Deputy Chief Cllr John Holtby said his efforts to secure payments for those not automatically eligible for discounts would also be more difficult than they appeared.

It comes as Cabinet of the Council approved the development of a scheme to deliver payments to households that fall outside the parameters of the government scheme unveiled in February. Council finance chief Julian Neilson told the cabinet the government had provided £539,250 to spend on households that local officials felt needed support but might not get it.

Read more:More than 30,000 East Riding residents are due £150 tax refund – but council needs bank details

Mr Neilson added that this included those who were in tax brackets above D but still received support. He said this also included students, people for whom council tax was exempt, such as people with severe mental disabilities and people living in multiple occupancy housing (HMOs).

This follows Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement that households will receive £150 in April to cushion the blow of soaring energy bills. The Chancellor unveiled the rebate along with a £200 rebate on energy bills, to be repaid in installments of £40 over five years from 2023.

East Riding Council leader Cllr Jonathan Owen said the way the scheme was run had created difficulties in getting payments to households.

Households in council tax bands A to D are eligible for the rebate, meaning 99 per cent of households in Hull and 83 per cent in the East Riding will get it. But questions remain over whether the council will secure payments for those for whom it does not hold bank details, many of whom pay council tax in cash.

East Riding Council has previously said it is considering the most effective and efficient way to make the payments as around 60,000 households face a similar situation in Hull. Cllr Owen said he was grateful for local efforts to make payments, including to those who may not qualify but still need them despite the complexity of making them.

The leader said: “There seems to be a lot of difficulty trying to give people £150. There are a lot of properties that don’t pay by direct debit, I’m sure in hindsight that would have could be managed much more simply at the national level.”

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Elaine R. Knight