In March, the council was issued with £699,000 of Government funding to help those experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19 to pay their council tax.

As a result, all working age recipients who already received the council's own Council Tax Reduction support automatically received £150 and all new Council Tax Reduction recipients who are eligible will also receive £150 for the 2020-21 financial year, subject to funding being available.

It is estimated that providing support to existing and future working age recipients of Council Tax Reduction will account for around half of the funding. To ensure that as many people are supported as possible, councillors have agreed to extend this support to pension-age recipients of Council Tax Reduction and all council tax payers that are financially vulnerable as a result of the pandemic.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they are financially vulnerable as a result of COVID-19 and are finding it difficult to pay their Council Tax.

"The funding is there to complement our own existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme which supports residents on low incomes," explains Councillor Peter Wilding, Cabinet Member for Finance and Revenues at Chichester District Council. "The Government is allowing local authorities the freedom to decide how best to use any remaining funding for council tax support.

"We wanted to extend this support to include other council tax payers that may be financially vulnerable as a result of Covid-19 and it will allow us to support those who are in the most need. We already have plans to proactively contact those residents who will benefit from this help.

"We understand that this is a difficult time for many people and I would urge anyone who is struggling to make payments to apply for Council Tax Reduction. This is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings. If you think you may be eligible, please visit our website for further details and to apply at: www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount

"If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and are still having difficulties paying your bills, you can now apply for this new support by filling in the Discretionary Council Tax Payment application form.

"Residents can also contact us by emailing benefits@chichester.gov.uk or calling 01243 534509."

Date of release: 10 July 2020

Reference: 3897