Record number of Sunderland people claiming Council Tax support
A record number of people in Sunderland are using a Government scheme to help pay their council tax bill during the coronavirus crisis.
Low-income households and pensioners can apply for a discount or exemption on their council tax under the Council Tax Reduction scheme and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show 22,094 residents in the city were claiming support in the three months to June.
That was the highest number for any quarter since 2015/16, when comparable records began, and a 15% rise on the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the number of pensioners claiming a council tax reduction fell to 12,934 from 13,473.
Nationally, the total number of claimants reached four million between April and June, up from 3.9 million in 2019.
Anti-poverty charity Turn2us warned many people are missing out on the benefit.
Sara Willcocks, head of external affairs at Turn2us, said: "While it is good news that there has been a modest uptake in people getting discounts on their bills, there are still thousands who are missing out.
"The coronavirus pandemic has pushed millions into financially precarious position and we expect to see more and more people needing this benefit over the next few months.”
She added: “Local councils must be supported so they have the money and resources to help people struggling."
Separate figures reveal in the three months to June, Sunderland City Council raised £29.1m through council tax – down from £30.7m over the same period in 2019.
Richard Watts, of the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are facing increased cost and demand pressures at the same time as experiencing a significant drop in income..
“The funding already received from the Government has been a positive step and recognises the crucial role councils have played in keeping the country going throughout the pandemic."
“But extra cost pressures on local authorities must be met by Westminster to avoid cuts to services.
A Government spokesperson said: “We’re giving councils unprecedented support during the pandemic.
"This includes £4.3bn, compensation for irrecoverable income losses and a scheme allowing them to spread their tax deficits."