When the Chancellor announced that we’d be getting £150 to help us with our energy bills many people – myself included – thought that the refund would be applied ‘in’ April.
It turns out that the money will be arriving through the council tax system ‘from’ April. As a result, thousands of people have been in touch to say they haven’t got the rebate on their bill – and might not get it for some time.
What happens if you’ve not had the rebate?
According to MoneySavingExepert councils have until 30th September to pay the rebate. Yet every council seems to have a different approach.
Because of these widespread variations it’s a bit of a postcode lottery when it comes to finding out when you will get the cash. The current advice is to go on to your local council website where there should be some updates. I’ve checked quite a few and there’s a distinct lack of information with some so don’t worry if the site hasn’t updated yet.
Many councils are asking people not to contact them by phone. But you can contact your council for help and support with financial difficulties if you are worried about paying the actual council tax.
I’ve heard that there are some scams to be aware of with this rebate – what are they?
Scammers may contact you by text, email or phone and ask for your details to provide the refund. Remember, don’t give out your bank details or any personal information on the phone to a stranger, no matter how convincing they seem. If you are unsure if a caller is real, hang up and check with the council tax helpline.
Also, watch out for ‘opportunist’ firms. These businesses charge you a fee for something you can do for free. Remember that only your local council can apply the rebate – so you should only deal with them. A business cannot get you the refund any quicker.
What happens if you don’t pay council tax by direct debit?
Roughly a quarter of people don’t pay their council tax by direct debit. This poses a problem for the councils as the rebate is generally paid by the council in to your bank account – not deducted off the bill. So if you pay by cash or cheque, the discount might not be applied to your account as they won’t have your bank details.
Your council should contact you if you don’t pay by direct debit but given the speed of the announcement and the way that some councils work, it might take a while.
Alternatively, why not set up a direct debit payment now, so the rebate can be paid directly to you?
If you live in subsidised housing or get benefits, do you still get the rebate?
Seeing as the rebate is designed to help counter rising costs like energy bills, then it shouldn’t matter if you don’t pay council tax, are on benefits or pay less tax. However, this is still a grey area. For example, some renters may not pay council tax as part of their contract but do pay full energy bills. So they could lose out under the existing guidance.
The Government are consulting on this issue right now so watch this space for further answers. If you are receiving benefits, you may still be paying some council tax, which should not preclude you from getting the full rebate.
What happens if you live in a house of multiple occupation, do you still get the £150 rebate?
The rebate is paid to each ‘household’ which is defined as ‘a person or group of people living in a property that attracts a separate council tax bill’. So that includes everything from a typical family to student shared houses. The rebate goes to the account of the person who pays the bill. If you live in a multiple occupancy household and don’t pay by direct debit then you should be able to nominate someone to receive the cash.
Martyn James is a leading consumer rights campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster and journalist.