COVID-19 outbreak: Call for UK-scheme to help those struggling to pay council tax


Cardiff Council Leader Huw Thomas has called on UK Government to put in place a national solution to help anyone who is struggling to pay their council tax because COVID-19 has affected their ability to do paid work.


On making the plea Cllr Thomas also revealed that Cardiff Council will suspend eviction of council tenants for rent arrears for at least three months as the outbreak unfolds.


Cllr Thomas said: "We know people are going to be worried and unsettled about what's happening and I know some of you will also be anxious about council tax bills. If you are struggling to pay we will of course be sympathetic, but please also understand that council tax is an important part of council revenues and we are dealing with mounting and unexpected bills as we try to deal with this crisis. So, I am calling for a UK government response to put in place a national solution to help those struggling to pay their council tax bills. People are going to be anxious about how they will cope with the coming crisis. It's important Government is there to help them financially through this difficult time.


"I also want you to know that I have asked officers to suspend eviction of council tenants for rent arrears for at least the next three months, to take that worry of people's shoulders.


"As leader of the council I want to reassure residents that the council is gearing up to meet the challenge head on. That will mean de-prioritising some activities to free up resources to be able to still deliver essential public services that people rely on.


"Services like social care for the elderly, waste collections and cleansing, signposting support for business as they try and survive this crisis, and our outreach teams going out to look after the homeless. Those are just a few of the services we are working hard to keep running.


Cllr Thomas said the outbreak was creating a dynamic situation changing from day to day which was putting increased pressure on the workforce across the council.


He added: "The schools are closing. In response to that - on Monday - children in Cardiff who receive free school meals will still be able to get those meals - a lunch - on an ongoing daily basis.  We are bolstering the youth service so there will distraction activities for young people in our communities and we are looking to put in place childcare provision for the children of key workers like NHS staff


"These are huge challenges that we must meet and we will meet them best when we meet them together.


"So many of you are already eager to volunteer your services so we are going to take the existing council volunteering portal and use it as a brokering service matching up people who need help with people offering help. We are going to get through this and we are going to do an awful lot of good together as we do so. So let's stay strong, let's stay united and please, let's look out for each other."