Council to help city OAPs claim tax rebate

City of Lincoln Council’s Executive gave the green light to a scheme that encourages city pensioners to claim Council Tax Benefit.

The scheme, which will last six months and cost £60,000, was approved at an Executive meeting on July 18.

It involves two council officers contacting people directly by telephone or by personalised letter, encouraging those who are entitled to claim the Council Tax Benefit.

Council Tax Benefit is essentially a rebate of some or all of the Council Tax an individual or family has paid.

According to the City Council, some Lincoln pensioners are missing out on an average of £675 a year in unclaimed Council Tax Benefit.

A report to the Executive by Jo Crookes, Interim Head of Customer Services at the authority, highlighted several barriers to pensioners claiming. These include pride, a lack of information and that the process is perceived as difficult.

In Lincoln, 17.1% of households currently receive full Council Tax Benefit and pay no tax themselves.

A further 6.4% of households receive a part payment, reducing their overall bill.

Last year, the City Council collected 98.2% Council Tax due. It ranks 103 out of 201 collecting authorities.

Councillor Brent Charlesworth, Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion, said: “One of the key priorities for the new administration is to tackle poverty and disadvantage, and one of the major ways we can do that is to ensure that people get access to the benefits that they are entitled to.

“This is vital, particularly when people are struggling to cope in the current economic climate.”

Pensioners across the UK are missing out on an estimated £5.5 billion in unclaimed benefits.