Energy cost needy will be hardest to reach with cash help

Energy cost needy will be hardest to reach with cash help

By Gareth Dennison | 07/04/2022

Energy cost needy will be hardest to reach with cash help
Cllr Chris Read, RMBC leader,


THOSE most in need of the £150 government tax rebate will be the hardest to reach with the cash, according to Rotherham’s council leader.

Close to 112,000 households across the borough qualify for the payment, intended to help amid spiralling energy costs.

Of those in Bands A to D, those paying direct debit will receive the £150 into their bank account by the end of April, with the others getting a cheque by the end of May.

Other bands will receive a smaller payment in the same ways, after Rotherham Council’s cabinet agreed on Monday (28) the details of how it will administer the scheme.

Cllr Chris Read, RMBC leader, said: “This becomes wildly complicated for the people who need the support the most, who are most likely to receive council tax support, and most likely to not have bank accounts.”

If cheques are not cashed in three months, the council can try to pay the money into accounts — except for those who pay the least amounts, such as pensioners on full council tax support.

Cllr Read: “However, in the latest round of government guidance, those people who owe less than £150, ie those who have got the least to start with and get the most council tax support, can’t receive the money in this form.

“People who need the money most are the people it’s going to be the hardest to get it in their pockets. For the sake of £150, you really think in 2022 we ought to be able to do better.”

A second cheque will be tried for those who do not cash the first and cannot receive the cash in any other way.

Cabinet members also approved an £800,000 package from its own coffers to help residents through the energy crisis.

The cash was saved from RMBC’s 2021 underspend, which it had initially expected to use on easing the transition out of the Covid-19 difficulties.

One-off grants of up to £250 will be available for hard-up households and extra housing payment support is being provided.

A further £100,000 of the underspend has been set aside for “cultural recovery events” which RMBC says will “enable people to reconnect.”

Events planned will be aimed at ensuring a “lasting legacy” from hosting four Women’s Euros matches, and celebrating the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

About £680,000 will be saved from the Covid Recovery Fund to provide other support in future related to moving on from the pandemic or facing up to the cost of living crisis.

Cllr Read said: “All the indicators are that these pressures on people’s finance will get worse as the year goes on. We may well need to use that money for that, or other purposes.

“But it’s right that we bring this [£800,000] forward now. We are just days away from the energy price cap rising and this will put us in a position to help people with some of the difficult challenges that households are facing.”