Lib Dems welcome Council Tax bills cut for those affected by COVID-19
By Stephen O'Brien
A Sunderland City Councillor who campaigned for Council Tax to be suspended during the COVID-19 crisis has welcomed a cut in bills for those who need help.
In March Lib Dem councillor for Grindon and Thorney Close Stephen O'Brien called for people in Council Tax bands A-E to be given a 6-month holiday from payments, to help those struggling with the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
In the last few days Sunderland City Council has stated that over 20,000 applications for hardship allowances had been received from people struggling to pay their Council Tax.
The Council is now using Government funding to issue updated Council Tax bills for working age people in receipt of local Council Tax support, awarding 'Council Tax Discretionary Relief' worth £2.1 million.
It means many residents struggling to pay bills as a result of coronavirus will see their Council Tax bill reduced - with many paying nothing in this financial year.
Welcoming the changes, Councillor Stephen O'Brien said:
"Whilst this announcement falls short of giving everyone a 6-month holiday from having to pay Council Tax, it is very welcome news for those people who are struggling to pay bills because they are unable to work as a result of COVID-19."This includes many families in Grindon, Thorney Close and across Sunderland, especially those who run their own business, who are self-employed, or who are on zero-hours contracts.
"Council Tax bills are a huge dint into the money people have available to keep a roof over their heads and keep their families fed. Giving Council Tax support to people who just can't afford to pay during the coronavirus crisis is absolutely the right thing to do, and I am glad the Government and Sunderland Council have listened."