Harwich Town Council

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Financial support for residents affected by Covid-19 outlined as extra help proposed

The level of financial support for residents impacted by Covid-19 was outlined during a meeting of Tendring District Council’s (TDC) Cabinet today (Friday 13 November).

The meeting heard that £1.374million was being administered under TDC’s Council Tax Hardship Scheme, £123k in Track and Trace Support payments for those isolating and unable to work, while there had also been an increase in claims to the Local Council Tax Support Scheme.

A policy giving a reduction in council tax to young people leaving care is also being drawn up.

The measure was introduced in a report on the Local Council Tax Support Scheme – which sets out discounts and additional charges on properties – which was approved by Cabinet at the meeting.

Backed by the Children’s Commissioner, the initiative would help young people leaving care into their own home by reducing the amount due on council tax.

Full details will now be worked up to go forward alongside TDC’s budget early next year, but the scheme will be backdated to April 2020.

Also proposed is to introduce an additional charge on properties which have been empty long-term, to encourage them back into use and help tackle the district’s housing shortage.

Legislation allows councils to add the premium, which rises to a rate of 300% of the council tax charge if a property has been empty for ten years.

It had been hoped to introduce the levy from April 2021, with empty homeowners put on notice last year, but the huge increase in work placed upon TDC’s finance teams during Covid-19 in running resident and business support schemes has meant the premium has been delayed until April 2022.

In addition to the residents’ support schemes outlined above, the team has also paid out £32.7m in grants to almost 3,000 businesses – with more to come in further schemes announced as part of national measures.

Paul Honeywood, TDC Cabinet Member for Housing, said the council would continue to stand by those who needed help.

“Our Local Council Tax Support and Hardship schemes are there to help those who are struggling, and have benefited more people as the individual economic impact of Covid-19 has bitten for many,” Cllr Honeywood said.

“I am proud of our policies in this area – which is why this year’s is mostly unchanged from last – and also pleased we will extend this support to young people leaving care, who really deserve a helping hand.

“Keeping the scheme largely the same provides stability for our residents, while the advance warning for owners of empty properties gives them time to get those homes back to into use.

“I’d also like to praise our staff who have done sterling work administering these various schemes alongside the additional business grant work – often at short notice.”