Financial support for households

In this section:

Do I still have to pay my council tax?

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for many of our residents and that the COVID-19 virus is having a significant impact on the economy.

Please note: your council tax pays for our essential services that are delivered to all residents, so it is really important that if your financial circumstances have not changed that you continue to pay what you should and maintain your direct debit payments or payment plan, as detailed on your bill.

If you think you are going to struggle to pay your 2020/21 council tax bill and your instalments are over 10 months, we can extend them to 12 months.

We also may be able to reduce your payments temporarily if you have previous year arrears.

You should:

  1. Make sure that you have claimed all the benefits that you are entitled to. For working-age families, this is Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Council Tax Reduction from the council

    To make a claim for Council Tax Reduction go to How to claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction and follow the instructions.

  2. If you have checked your entitlement to any other benefits and you are still struggling, we would encourage you to contact us at customerfirst@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk.

Because of current demands on our contact centres, please contact us by email. We will come back to you as quickly as we can.

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I can't pay my mortgage, what do I do?

In the first instance, you need to talk to your mortgage provider to see what they can do to help. A number of providers are helping their customers directly with their mortgage payments.

If you are a homeowner, you might be able to get help from the Department for Work and Pensions towards interest payments on:

  • your mortgage
  • loans you have taken out for certain repairs and improvements to your home.

This help is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). It’s paid as a loan, which you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home.

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I am on a zero hours contract and have been laid off. Can I get any help?

You may be eligible for Universal Credit to help with your living costs, from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

You must apply as a couple if you and your partner live together (you do not need to be married).

Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

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I am self-employed and not earning enough to pay my bills. What do I do?

You may be eligible for Universal Credit to help with your living costs, from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This includes help towards your rent.

You should claim for help with your Council Tax from the council as you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction.

For Universal Credit, you must apply as a couple if you and your partner live together (you do not need to be married). You might also need to phone the Universal Credit helpline to book an interview with a work coach. You will be told if you need to do this after you apply.

Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for the period of time whilst you are affected.

From 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

The government will calculate your Universal Credit based on your actual earnings.

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I am off sick with coronavirus. What are the rules?

As part of the Government’s strategy to support people affected by this public health emergency, the Department for Work and Pensions is making a number of changes to its benefit processes to ensure people who need financial help have access to the benefit system.

Support for employees, benefits claimants and businesses

To keep up-to-date with the latest information please visit the government's website:

www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

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I have no money for food, is there any help available?

You may be able to get help from a Foodbank. Visit our Volunteering and food banks page.

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I have less income this month and cannot pay my rent, how can I get help?

Whether your landlord is a private or social landlord, it is important that you keep in touch with them and let them know if you are going to miss a payment or not pay the full amount.

The Department for Work and Pensions can help with rent costs for working-age residents and you should claim Universal Credit. This can include rent payments. Pensionable age residents can claim housing benefit.

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What can I do if my landlord says I will be evicted because I won’t be able to pay my rent this month?

Whether your landlord is a private or social landlord, it is important that you keep in touch with them and let them know if you are going to miss a payment or not pay the full amount.

The Department for Work and Pensions can help with rent costs and you should claim Universal Credit. This can include rent payments.

If you have been served an eviction warrant or your home is about to be repossessed, contact us.

You may also wish to contact Citizens Advice who can offer free independent legal advice.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments can help if you are struggling to pay your rent. You must live in the Eastbourne or Lewes council area to apply for them.

To get a discretionary housing payment towards your rent you must either:

  • be entitled to some Housing Benefit from us; or
  • be receiving Universal Credit that includes help towards your housing costs.

There is no right for anyone to a discretionary payment. We will look at your case to decide if you need extra support.

Find out more about discretionary payments on our website

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Can I get any financial help to pay my council tax?

It is important that you keep in touch with us and let us know if you are going to miss a payment or not pay the full amount.

If you need help to pay your council tax, whatever your age and circumstances, you should claim Council Tax Reduction from the council.

How to claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction

Council Tax Reduction - Hardship Fund

Everyone of working-age who receives Council Tax Reduction will have £150 credited to their council tax account for the financial year 2020/21. If the amount you need to pay after Council Tax Reduction is less than £150 we will simply bring your council tax balance down to zero. While this might sound simple, it is a complex process that we are working on urgently. Please bear with us during this particularly challenging time while we work to put the new scheme in place as quickly as possible.

Anything left in our Hardship Fund pot will be used to help those most impacted by the current crisis.

If you want to claim Council Tax Reduction you have to claim from the council.

Claim Council Tax reduction separately

If you are not making a claim for Universal Credit, then you must make a separate claim for Council Tax Reduction. You can claim council tax support online.

Council Tax discounts

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How do I tell you about any other changes that might affect my council tax?

You can contact us online to tell us about a change in your circumstances.

Changes in circumstances

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