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Council offers financial lifeline to people suffering hardship

Lewes District Council will provide increased support to people in financial distress and on low incomes, Cabinet councillors agreed today (Thursday, December 10).

The Local Council Tax Reduction (LCTR) scheme for working-age people has been running since 2013 and awards a council tax reduction up to a maximum of 80% of a person's council tax liability and is means-tested.

Cabinet councillors today decided to boost this level to a maximum of 90% of a person's council tax liability in a one-off payment using money remaining in council hardship funds.

They also approved continuation of a pilot scheme that removes the minimum income floor for the self-employed.

These measures are subject to agreement by Full Council.

Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets, said: "The impact of Covid-19 is being felt very harshly by many people in our district on low incomes and we are committed to giving them the financial support they need with the funding available to us.

"We have been looking at various options to provide additional support and believe the most effective way is by offering more help for people to meet their council tax liabilities and continuing with removing the income floor for the self-employed."

The council has so far made 3,742 awards totalling £550,538 through the Council Tax Hardship Fund which was introduced by the government as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, the Council Tax Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHP) provides extra financial support to working-age recipients of LCTR or the self-employed who do not qualify due to the application of the minimum-income floor and are facing exceptional hardship.

Councillor Chris Collier, Cabinet member for Performance and People, added: "We will continue to do all we can to support people who need our help most through this particularly difficult time caused by the pandemic, and beyond."