Coronavirus and your bills
Help with your council tax
Councils in England have received guidance from the government on how they should use new funding to help households in their area.
If you currently get help from the Council Tax Reduction scheme (also called Council Tax Support) and are of working-age, you may see your council tax bill for 2020-2021 reduce by a further £150.
- You do not need to have been directly affected by coronavirus to be eligible.
- You do not need to apply to the council for this extra reduction. Councils already have details of households that get help through the Council Tax Reduction scheme and should contact you directly.
Your 2020-2021 council tax bill
Some councils changed the months during which they collect council tax payments for the 2020-2021 tax year. Instead of collecting payments from April 2020 to January 2021, some councils are collecting payments from June 2020 to March 2021. This means that if you usually pay your council tax in 10 instalments, the months that you would not pay council tax would be April and May 2020, rather than February and March 2021. Check with your council to see if they made this change.
If you will struggle to pay your council tax, contact your council and explain this to them.
Councils may give further help if you are dealing with exceptional circumstances.
Help from your home energy provider
Energy providers have agreed that the disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended. Also, if you are self-isolating and unable to top up your pre-payment meter, you can:
- nominate a third party for credit top ups;
- have a discretionary fund added to your credit; or
- have a pre-loaded top up card sent so that your supply is not interrupted.
If you are struggling to manage repayments to your energy provider contact them to see what help they can provide. New guidance means that your debt repayments and bill payments could be reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary.
More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.
If you are a vulnerable person, you could ask your energy provider to place you on the Priority Services Register. The Priority Services Register can help to make sure that you receive all the appropriate support you need. You can find out who may be classed as vulnerable and what help is available by visiting Ofgem.
Help from your household water supplier
Water companies have agreed to help customers in a variety of ways because of the coronavirus crisis. Water UK has said that companies are:
- stopping new court applications on unpaid bills during the current restrictions, and stopping any enforcement visits;
- actively offering payment breaks or payment holidays for anyone in financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus; and
- changing payment plans urgently to help with sudden changes in household finances.
Each water company will have its own scheme. Contact them directly to see what help can be provided. A full list of possible support and more detail can be found on Water UK's website.
Help from your mobile or broadband provider
Most of the main broadband and mobile companies have introduced a range of measures to try to help customers.
- Providers will help if you are struggling to pay your bill and make sure you are treated fairly. Contact them if you are struggling to pay your bill.
- They have agreed to remove all data caps on fixed broadband services. Check with your provider if you are unsure if this applies to you.
- You may be offered a new package to help you stay connected. Some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from home phones or mobiles. Contact your provider to see if you could benefit from this.
Help with your TV licence
TV Licensing have taken steps to help if you are struggling to pay your TV licence.
- If you are unable to keep up with payments, call them on 0300 555 0300 to see how they can help.
- TV Licensing has stopped sending arrears letters to people who have fallen behind on payments.
- Collection visits by officers have also been stopped.
- If you are in financial hardship and urgently need to stop your Direct Debit payments, call them on 0300 790 6068. If you are unable to get through, cancel the Direct Debit with your bank. You will need to make up any payments that you miss later on.
TV Licensing has fewer staff answering calls at the moment so it will be more difficult to speak to someone. If you need to make a payment, there are other ways you can try and pay.