More direct support for low-earners and those in financial crisis
Councillors are set to approve a raft of proposals to increase the amount of direct support available to residents struggling during the Covid pandemic and as part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to reduce poverty across the borough.
Low-income, working-age residents who qualify for Hackney's Council Tax Reduction Scheme currently get up to 85% of their Council Tax paid. And from April, the Council will set aside more than £1.4million to reduce their bills by a further £60 a year. The majority of pensioners on a low income and young people leaving care will continue to get all of their Council Tax paid. As part of this funding boost, the Council has also added an extra £100,000 into its Discretionary Crisis Fund to help those in financial crisis.
The Council will also make available an extra £900,000 of targeted investment into tackling poverty and inequality; supporting those disproportionately impacted by the Covid crisis; helping reduce school exclusions and improving the life chances of young people in the borough; and helping those excluded from support due to Government criteria on accessing public funds.
This is on top of the tens of millions of pounds the Council has already invested over the past 12 months and will continue to inject in providing unprecedented financial support for struggling families and small businesses during the pandemic. Including, delivering essential social care, supporting schools and providing emergency accommodation for homeless residents; as well as supporting families with children on free school meals, the clinically extremely vulnerable, and care home residents.
The pandemic has been and continues to be a national and local tragedy. Hundreds of our residents have died - each death devastating for family and friends left behind - and many more of our residents continue to suffer from the wider fallout, including the significant economic impact.
At the same time, Government cuts to public services, changes to benefits, and increases in everyday living costs, such as food, rent, and utilities, have a disproportionate impact on our poorest households, and we want to do everything we can to support them.
We are committed to rebuilding a better Hackney as we emerge from the pandemic, and we will use all our powers to tackle poverty and inequality in the borough.
The changes are set to be approved at Cabinet on 22 February and Full Council on 24 February.
The Government handed responsibility for administering Council Tax Benefit - with a significant reduction in funding - to councils in 2013. Hackney Council currently invests more than £26million - nearly half the entire Children and Families Services budget - into its reduction scheme to help more than 30,000 residents pay their Council Tax. This investment will increase this year to help further reduce the amount low-income households need to pay.
Cllr Rennison added: “Our ambition is to ensure all of the borough’s families on low or no incomes pay zero Council Tax by 2030, and that they receive at least a 90 percent discount by 2025/26. However, this represents a significant challenge due to the rising numbers of those claiming, as well as the lack of certainty around future Government funding. Nonetheless, we will look to take forward work in the coming year to set out a clear way forward to delivering on our commitment.”
The Hackney Discretionary Crisis Support Scheme, for those in need of essentials and basics such as food, clothing and white goods, has helped hundreds of local people and families over the past 12 months. This crucial extra funding this year will mean the Council can support even more people in need.
Residents who think they may qualify for help through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme or the Council Tax Discretionary Fund, can call: 020 8356 3399; those who think they may be eligible for Discretionary Crisis Support Scheme, can call: 020 8356 3000.
The Council was the target of a serious cyberattack in October last year. This affected many of the IT systems that support its services, including its ability to process new claims for Council Tax Support. However, when you talk to us, we will take your details, and backdate your claim as soon as the Council’s systems are fully restored.
For more information visit: hackney.gov.uk/hb-ctr-explained and hackney.gov.uk/discretionary-crisis-support-scheme