THOUSANDS of households could miss out on a £150 grant due to an application loophole.
Households in England in council tax bands A to D started receiving the £150 from their local council from April as part of the government’s Energy Bills Rebate scheme.
You get one payment per household and do not have to pay the money back.
However, the scheme has been beset with problems and some people, who do not make their council tax payments by direct debit, have been left struggling to get their £150.
In Oxford, the council has started paying residents the rebate if they pay for their council tax via direct debit.
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Yet, residents who do not pay by direct debit are being told to apply online using its application page.
And the council added claims could only be made online, and not by phone, email or in writing.
That means residents without access to a computer or device with internet access and who do not pay for their council tax via direct debit will be stuck.
It’s not clear yet if the issue will affect people in other areas throughout the UK without online access.
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An Oxford City Council spokesperson said it estimated there were around 17,000 eligible claimants for the energy rebate, who would need to be encouraged to go online to claim “in the first instance”.
They added in some cases, support from family and friends might be an option.
“Assisting 17,000 people over the telephone would clearly be impossible,” they said.
“We will review the situation once we have settled online claims, seeking to contact people proactively and look at options to get them their money.”
Consumer expert Martyn James, from Resolver, said asking people to jump through additional hoops seemed “really unfair and indicative of the chaotic implementation” of the government’s Energy Bills Rebate scheme.
He said: “It’s worth noting that the government caught many councils by surprise with their plans for the rebate, which has led to council helplines flooded, websites crashing and confusion over how people who didn’t pay by direct debit would get the cash.”
A government spokesperson said last month most councils had already started paying the rebate out to eligible residents.
But some councils were struck by technical issues which meant payments were delayed.
Harrow Council cancelled its start date, which was supposed to be May 13, claiming it was due to a “technical error”.
And residents in St Helens, Merseyside, also faced delays as the council pushed back the launch date several times due to tech upgrades.
Meanwhile, thousands of households in North Lincolnshire were told they had to repay their £150 payment after an error.
And in Leeds, even with a deadline of June 24, the council’s latest figures show around two-thirds of Leeds’s 120,000 non-direct debit households have not yet applied for the rebate.
How do you apply for the council tax rebate?
While each council is administering the scheme in different ways, regardless of your area you will need to live in a home which falls under band A – D to be eligible to claim the rebate.
If you pay your council tax by direct debit, your local council will usually make the payment to your bank account.
Payments started being sent in April.
If you are eligible but don’t pay your council tax by direct debit, your local council should contact you with details of how to claim your rebate.
If you are not sure what council you fall under, you can check by using the government’s locator.
You can also check what council tax band your property is in by going on the government’s website.
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You will need to check with your local council how and when you get the payments.
It’s worth checking in with older family or friends to see if they need help getting it.
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