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Residents struggling to pay their bills urged to seek help

RESIDENTS struggling with their Council Tax or other payments during the pandemic are being urged to seek support as soon as they can.

The council is writing to residents it already knows are struggling to pay to urge them to work with the council to sort out the problem. As well as explaining what the debt is, the letters also highlight the support that is available.

Some householders on a low income may also be eligible for help from the Council Tax Reduction scheme to help reduce the overall amount they have to pay.

In addition, the letters offer ideas on how to access independent advice on managing debt or money issues.

People in need of support with debt problems can go to https://www.swansea.gov.uk/debtpanicbutton or if they wish to discuss their council tax payments can contact https://www.swansea.gov.uk/counciltax

Since the start of the pandemic, Swansea Council has been at the forefront of supporting local people and businesses with millions of pounds in grants being paid out over the last 10 months.

Hundreds of eligible householders have also been able to access Welsh Government payments via the council when they’ve been asked to self-isolate by the track and trace service.

But Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said that due to the pandemic, some people will be struggling to pay their bills, including Council Tax.

He said: “We are here for those people too. We have a dedicated support team of Council Tax experts who can help eligible residents reduce their Council Tax bills.

“There is also a range of other agencies in Swansea like Citizens’ Advice who can help people facing a debt crisis due to the pandemic.

“Our message to anyone who is facing problems paying their Council Tax is to get in touch with us now. We may be able to help you spread – or even cut – the cost of Council Tax.”

Letters are going out to householders this month who are behind with their Council Tax urging them to work with the council to resolve the issue.

The council raises around £130m a year in Council Tax. The money goes towards paying for council services, many of which have been absolutely critical in keeping people safe, protecting the NHS and saving lives during the pandemic.

Cllr Stewart said:

“We’ve all seen the amazing work our social care workers have done in care homes. On top of that during the pandemic, our staff have supported those who are shielding, organised a network of thousands of volunteers to look after the vulnerable and looked after the children of key workers like nurses and doctors so they can go to work.

“Our teams are helping run the track and trace service, procuring vital PPE materials for care homes and our staff and we organised the construction of the Bay field hospital, currently being used to carry out thousands of vaccinations.”

He said: “On top of that we’ve also carried on with regular council services like kerbside recycling and waste collections, highways repairs and supporting the education of children at home as well as in school.

“Helping to make all this possible is the money we get from the Council Tax. That’s why it is very important that we all continue to pay our Council Tax.

“If you are finding it difficult to pay we’d urge you to get in touch because we may well be able to ease the load. It is now more important than ever that we come together to support one another.  That is why we are offering additional advice and support and are here to help where we can.”


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