Further Information on Council Tax Support - Exceptional Hardship Fund
Main features of the fund
Working age residents who are currently receiving Council Tax Support and are experiencing exceptional hardship in paying a shortfall can ask for help from the Exceptional Hardship Fund (EHF).
The main features of EHF are that:
- The payments are discretionary
- Residents do not have a statutory right to a payment
- Payments will normally be restricted to 50% of any Council Tax due
- Applicants should normally be receiving Council Tax Support at the time when the application is made, however each application will be considered on it's own merit
- Any award will be paid directly to the relevant Council Tax account for the current year
- It is to help with exceptional hardship and is time limited
We will treat each case on its own merits and all residents will be treated fairly and equally in relation to accessibility to the EHF and also the decision making process
Objectives of EHF
We will seek through the EHF to:
- Allow a short period of time for someone to adjust to unforeseen short-term, one-off financial circumstances
- Help customers through difficult one-off events that affect their finances.
- Prevent exceptional hardship
When will the fund not be awarded?
The EHF is an emergency fund, whilst the resident seeks alternative solutions.
It will not be awarded for the following circumstances:
- For any reason, other than to pay Council Tax
- Where we consider that there are unnecessary expenses and/or debts and that the customer has not taken reasonable steps to reduce these
- To reduce any Council Tax Support recoverable overpayment
- A shortfall caused by a Department for Work and Pensions sanction or suspension that has been applied because the resident has turned down work/interview/training opportunities
- When Council Tax Support is suspended
What will we consider when making our decision?
We will decide whether or not to award an EHF payment, and how much any award will be. When making this decision we will consider:
- The amount of Council Tax to be paid
- Whether all eligible Council Tax discounts, exemptions and reductions have been applied
- Whether we can change payment methods, Council Tax instalments or set alternative payment arrangements in order to make them affordable
- Steps taken by the resident to identify and reduce non-essential expenditure
- The personal circumstances, age and medical circumstances (including ill health and disabilities) of the resident, their partner and any other household members
- The financial difficulty experienced by the resident, which prohibits them from being able to meet their Council Tax payments, and the likely length of time this difficulty will exist
- Income of the resident, their partner and any other household members including those which are disregarded when awarding Council Tax Support
- Any savings or capital that might be held by the resident or their partner
- The exceptional nature of the resident and/or their family's circumstances that impact on finances
- The amount available in the EHF at the time of the request
This list is not exhaustive. We will consider all relevant factors and special circumstances on each individual application .
An award of EHF is time limited and should be considered a one-off payment, even if the resident's circumstances have not changed.
The EHF payment will normally be restricted to 50% of the Council Tax due for payment but each application will be considered on it's own merits.
Requesting an EHF payment
You can request an EHF payment by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Vic Allison, Deputy Managing Director, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Pershore, WR10 1PT. A request can be made by the applicant or third party.
Following the initial request, we may ask you to complete a form detailing your income and expenditure and send us additional information to support your request. This will enable us to decide whether we can assist you from the EHF.
Change in circumstances
We may change an EHF payment where the resident's circumstances have changed which either increases or reduces their Council Tax Support entitlement
Duties of the residents
A person requesting an EHF payment is required to:
- Give us any information we request so we can make a decision.
- Tell us of any changes in circumstances that may be relevant to their payment
Amount and duration of any award
We will determine the amount and the duration of any award determined at our discretion based of the evidence supplied and the circumstances of the request. However this will not normally exceed 50% of the shortfall and be a one-off payment.
Any EHF payment will be paid directly to the resident's Council Tax account, reducing the amount of Council Tax payable.
Overpaid EHF payments
We will generally recover EHF payments directly from the resident's Council Tax account, increasing the amount of Council Tax payable.
Notification of an EHF decision
We will notify the outcome of each application for EHF payments in writing.
The right to dispute a decision
EHF payments are not payments of Council Tax Support, and are therefore not subject to the statutory appeal process. There is a separate right to appeal against the amount liable under section 16(1) of LGFA 1992 to the Valuation Tribunal.
We are committed to protect public funds and ensure payments are paid to the people who are rightfully entitled to them.
Anyone who claims an EHF payment by falsely declaring their circumstances, providing a false statement or false evidence in support of their application, may have committed an offence.
Where we suspect that such an offence may have been committed, this matter will be investigated as appropriate and could lead to criminal proceedings.
Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Bill 2012 amends section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and sets out the requirement for local authorities to develop and adopt a localised Council Tax Support Scheme. This EHF forms part of this scheme.