The poorest households are struggling to get the £150 energy rebate that local authorities have been tasked with paying, an energy charity has warned.
The council tax rebate scheme has been introduced to support households in England who are struggling to cover the cost of energy in the wake of the April price cap rise.
Under the scheme, councils will issue a £150 rebate to households in council tax bands A to D. Local authorities have been allocated just over £28m to help cover the costs of administrating the scheme.
The charity National Energy Action has, however, warned that councils all have a different way of administering the scheme which has created a ‘postcode lottery’.
It also said that many people outside of tax bands A to D are struggling to get by.
‘The Government’s response to the energy crisis has been wholly inadequate so far. We’ve got serious concerns about the way the council tax rebate will be implemented,’ said Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action.
‘Councils across the country will have their own way of administering the scheme, creating a postcode lottery for struggling households.
‘The rebate doesn’t apply to those outside council tax bands A-D. While the Treasury said that there would be money for other vulnerable households outside of the eligibility, they will often need to self-identify, rather than just getting the rebate automatically, which could see desperate households slipping through the cracks.
‘It’s estimated that over 600,000 low-income households fall outside of bands A-D, and many of those will not have access to the support.’
Cllr Shaun Davies, chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: 'Councils know that this year will be tougher than most, particularly for those on lower incomes, have worked hard to get energy rebate payments out to millions of eligible households. This has been a significant task and not without its challenges.
'Many residents who are signed up to direct debit will have already started to receive their rebate. Some councils have begun making payments this month to allow software to be fully tested and to ensure April direct debit payments are not recalled and many are now also focusing on contacting those eligible who do not pay their council tax by direct debit.
'Councils are also setting up their local schemes to offer discretionary help to households who are not eligible under the terms of the rebate scheme, but who are struggling to meet the costs of rising energy bills.'