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Agenda item

Discretionary Funding Policy - Energy Council Tax Rebate


The Government has announced a package of support known as the Energy Bills rebate. There are two elements to the support.  One being a mandatory scheme and the second being a discretionary scheme.  The purpose of this report is to formally agree the criteria for the discretionary scheme and approve the Policy



It is recommended that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

a) Consider the eligibility criteria, as set out in Annex A;

b) Provide feedback to the Cabinet for consideration on 9 May 2022; and

c) Agree to waiver call-in arrangements for this item following Cabinet consideration on 9 May 2022, subject to there being no fundamental change to the recommendation after it had been considered by the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.


The Chair addressed the meeting and advised that he was content that there had been no substantive change since the policy had been reviewed by O&S and therefore its decision to waive the right to Call-In of this decision should stand, allowing the policy to be acted upon immediately following the Cabinet decision without any further Call-In consideration. 


The Officer presented the policy that included the proposed criteria for entitlement to payments from the Discretionary Fund


The Committee noted that the report had been brought to Overview and Scrutiny to enable the committee to consider the proposed eligibility criteria of the Discretionary Scheme.


The Committee noted that this report would focus on the Discretionary scheme, for which, the Council had been awarded £152,850


The Committee welcomed the scheme as a serious attempt to focus on those that were hard to reach, and suggested support groups that could help to contact eligible people including  Town & Parish Clerks Citizens Advice Bureau and other charitable trusts. The officer confirmed that work was already underway to contact all of these support groups.


The Committee commented that the eligibility criteria appeared to be complex and may be difficult to administer.  The officer agreed that the scheme was relatively complex but the proposed eligibility for the support would prioritise relieving hardship.


The Committee queried how potential recipients (especially those without web access) would find out about the scheme.  The officer confirmed that the Council’s comms team was working to promote the scheme and a leaflet had been included with every council tax bill


The Committee commented that those without a bank account would find it difficult to receive payment.  The officer confirmed paper applications would be available for those without web access and recipients without a bank account would be sent a barcode that could be taken to a Post Office for cash payment.


The Committee queried if it was possible to reduce the eligibility for E-H Council Tax households and include/increase A-D Council Tax households.  The officer confirmed that the Council could chose to extend eligibility to A-D households to provide an addition to the mandatory £150 council tax rebate.  However, the size of the fund available would mean that the Council would be administering thousands of small value payments which would have less impact than the proposed scheme.


The Committee noted that as the Discretionary Scheme closes at the end of November and eligible households needed to be identified as quickly as possible, and asked if the number of Direct Debit payers had been identified.  The officer confirmed that 67% of Council households pay their Council Tax by Direct Debit.  Those eligible for Mandatory Scheme payments had already been identified and work would begin to identify those eligible for Discretionary Scheme payments will begin once the eligibility criteria had been agreed


The Committee noted that there was an initial risk that insufficient funding would be available, but projection modelling now indicated there may a small surplus.


The Committee commented that, should there be a surplus, consideration should be given to providing additional support for heating to eligible groups. The officer confirmed that, should there be a surplus, an options report will be brought back to agree how this should be utilised.


RESOLVED: The Committee has considered the eligibility criteria as set out in Annex A, provided feedback to the Cabinet for the consideration on 9th May 2022, and agrees to waiver call-in arrangements for this item following Cabinet consideration on 9 May 2022, subject to there being no fundamental change to the recommendation.


Voting Record


For 10,  Against 0,  Abstentions 0, Absent 0,


Supporting documents: