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Concern over how households to receive £150 council tax discount

Tens of thousands of council tax payers will not automatically receive a government rebate of £150 on their bills this year if they do not pay by direct debit, it has emerged.

The government announced the scheme last month to help ease the pressure on households facing a cost of living crisis, including significant increases in energy bills and National Insurance contributions.

Those who pay their council tax via direct debit will receive a one-off payment of £150 from their council in April
Those who pay their council tax via direct debit will receive a one-off payment of £150 from their council in April

The rebate is available only for bill payers in the property bands A to D – meaning an estimated 165,776 households across the county will be ineligible.

However, many councils say they are in the dark about how the government intends the scheme will operate.

Kent councils will be able to process rebates if people pay by direct debit because they hold bank details that can be used to amend the overall bill.

While a large number of households do pay this way, there are still many thousands who pay their bill in other ways.

Those who pay their council tax via direct debit will receive a one-off payment of £150 from their council in April, with councils able to process the claims of those who don't from the start of April.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite

The scheme has been broadly welcomed but there have been concerns raised about the additional burdens placed on councils.

Dartford council has 37,000 households of which 22,000 pay by direct debit but 15,000 do not.

It says it does not expect there to be any delays in sending bills out but accepted that there would be some taxpayers it needed to contact regarding the discount.

Council leader Cllr Jeremy Kite said: "It looks like we currently hold bank details for around two thirds of local bill payers and plan to make these payments automatically.

"If councils don't hold up-to-date banking details, they will need to get in touch with households to obtain them."

He added Dartford, which is one of the few authorities which is not increasing its council tax, had already started the process to ensure those who qualified got the rebate "without undue delay".

Gravesham council said it had about 23,000 households which did not pay by direct debit and about 14,700 which did.

Of those 14,700, it said about 80% were in Bands A to D.

The council said: "The simple fact of the matter is we are still awaiting detailed information from government on how the scheme will work, and until we have that we can’t make any real progress on putting our own processes in place."

Cllr Vince Maple, leader of the opposition Labour group on Medway council, said there could be a risk that those who were eligible might miss out.

"It might seem on the face of it generous and simple and straightforward.

"But I would say there's a risk for some of those who need to have support missing out because councils don't have bank details for them."

Several councils contacted by KentOnline for details of the number of households affected declined to do so.

Thanet, Tonbridge and Malling, Maidstone and Dover said they were still waiting for government guidance on how the scheme would be operated.

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