Possible council tax deferrals: CCN response

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2020 | 07 April 2020

Today the national media are reporting that councils have begun offering council tax deferral schemes for residents during the Coronavirus outbreak, and speculate that further local authorities will be rolling out these initiatives in more areas.

The County Councils Network understands the motivation behind the schemes, especially in helping certain households who are in financial hardship, but the network is today warning that a blanket rollout of this scheme could impact heavily on county authorities, who need the income to provide vital local services.

The CCN chairman’s response, which you can read below, has been covered by the BBC here.

Cllr David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network, said:

“Councils have an important role in helping residents through the current economic challenges posed by the Coronavirus, whether through the very important Hardship Fund or their support to local businesses through rate discounts and grants.

“We recognise and understand the motivation behind these schemes to provide financial relief for households, and some arrangements can be considered on a case-by-case basis for the most vulnerable and those in the greatest need. However, a blanket deferral or non-payment scheme offered across the board could create significant additional financial challenges for local government, reducing cashflow for vital services such as social care which are at the frontline in responding to Coronavirus.

“The impact could be particularly damaging for county authorities who are so heavily reliant on this income. Moreover, in two-tier local authority areas, any scheme must be agreed by the district billing authority and county council to prevent any adverse cash flow challenges for social care services.

“The County Councils Network has asked the government to provide further guidance on this matter to all local authorities.”