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Financial help is available for struggling residents

Residents are being reminded of the financial support that is available to those who have been hit financially during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the financial packages announced by the government, the council created a £1.5million COVID-19 Emergency Fund to provide additional support to those who have been impacted by the current unprecedented challenges.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the council’s cabinet member for finance and leisure, said: “We know that some of our residents are struggling financially during the coronavirus lockdown, they may have been furloughed or have even lost their jobs as a result of this crisis and we want you to know that there is support available.

“In addition to government support, we have created a £1.5million COVID-19 Emergency Fund to provide further support for organisations and individuals facing financial hardship.”

You can watch a video message from Councillor Mahfouz above.

Support available

Residents can defer council tax payments for up to three months, or up to six months for the self-employed, helping those with temporary difficulties to delay payments to a later date.

Meanwhile, people facing exceptional circumstances can apply for council tax reduction and discretionary council tax discount to pay their council tax at a reduced rate. This includes an extra £150 for people who were previously eligible for this relief.

In addition to this, the council has a local welfare assistance service, which has been boosted by the COVID-19 Emergency Fund to ensure residents who need help can buy food and essential household items and pay for living expenses. Discretionary housing payments are also available to top-up housing-related benefits to cover costs such as rent.

“So, if you are struggling,” added Councillor Mahfouz. “Please contact the council to ensure that you are receiving the support that you are entitled to.  We know that many residents will not have had to contact the council before about their finances, but we are here to help.

“This funding will be a lifeline for many and we want to ensure those who need our help can get it.”  

Financial advice

The council also has a benefits advice line, residents can call 020 8825 8555 to get general advice about benefit entitlements. This line is open to all residents of the borough, but it may be experiencing long wait times due to unprecedented demand. 

While those in need of debt advice can visit the Money Advice Service or visit StepChange  – who can provide advice for free.

For full details of the support available visit the council’s coronavirus web pages, under Help for Residents, Financial Help.  

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