Nearly 9-in-10 of Inside Croydon readers say that they have not received the government’s £150 emergency energy rebate with their Council Tax, more than two months after the money was paid over to Croydon Council for the purpose.
This appears to contradict Croydon Council’s claim, “The majority of payments have now been completed.”
Inside Croydon reported last week how the council had, belatedly, issued a press release which amounted to an admission that the council has failed to work out a way to distribute the £150 energy rebates provided by the Tory government, even to the tens of thousands of Council Tax-payers who routinely make their payment via direct debit.
Most households in Council Tax Bands A to D qualify for a rebate of £150, if they are occupied as a sole or main residence as at April 1 this year. This includes those who receive Council Tax support. Even some Band E homes may qualify.
The payment from the government is intended to defray rapidly rising fuel costs, and is a one-off refund, not a “loan”, and therefore does not need to be repaid.
The payments should have been made to eligible householders from April, if they pay their Council Tax by direct debit. And according to the government’s website, if you don’t use direct debit, “your local council will contact you from April to arrange a method for paying the rebate”.
It took Croydon two whole months – handy in case of any Town Hall cashflow issues – before they issued the statement on their website: it was not until May 30 that the council “invited” residents to complete an online form to receive their rebate payment.
The council states that, “Croydon households will receive their £150 council tax rebate within two weeks of the completed form being returned and their details verified.”
Worryingly, the council added, “Residents who already pay their Council Tax by direct debit and have not received payment are encouraged to also get in touch via the online form.”
The council says it has been processing rebates for residents who pay by direct debit “since the beginning of April, paying out over £7.3million”.
As with covid business grants in 2020, when some traders went out of business while waiting for the council to hand over the government cash, there’s a strong suspicion that cash-strapped Croydon might be hanging on to the government cash for as long as it can.
A entirely unscientific poll published by Inside Croydon at the start of this month simply asked whether our readers had received their £150 rebate or not.
Although somewhat self-selecting, iC’s readership might be seen as representative of the borough’s Council Tax-payers more broadly, while they also all have ready access to the interweb.
After a week’s worth of polling, the overwhelming majority, 87per cent, from hundreds of respondees say that they have not received their £150 “emergency” energy rebate.
Fewer than 50 readers say that the council has done what it was meant to do in April and handed over their cash from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Readers are increasingly sceptical about the council’s IT systems and methods used in making the payments.
A simple rebate on all qualified direct debit payments is the kind of thing most businesses are capable of achieving with a minimum amount of fuss. But not Croydon Council, apparently, which now wants direct debit-paying residents to fill in additional forms and verify the details which enable them to make payments to the council every month.
And those who try to complete the council’s online form have encountered problems, but are then unable to get through on Fisher’s Folly’s understaffed phone lines.
Even former councillors, such as Stephen Mann, have encountered unreasonable delays in making a claim for money that ought to have been paid two months ago.
“Unable to apply for the Council Tax rebate online,” Mann tweeted today.
“Call the number and there isn’t even a hold queue sending you online. Absolutely ridiculous service.”
Mann subsequently discovered that the council’s phone lines – usually only open from 9am to 4pm on weekdays – were down for an hour, for lunch…
Even when Mann did get through, he was told that there was nothing that those staffing the phone lines could do to help him.
So far, “executive” Mayor Jason Perry, trousering £81,000 per year, has been silent on an important issue which affects the vast majority of households in the borough.
- If you fear that Croydon Council is too incompetent to organise a £150 energy rebate to you before the end-of-August deadline for payments, click here and visit this page on the council website and try to fill in their online form. Good luck…
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