Bolton Council faces an ‘incredibly difficult’ challenge over the next two months to distribute a one-off £150 government payment to more than 30,000 households which do not pay their council tax by direct debit.
About 20 million households in England, those with homes in council tax bands A to D, will get a £150 payment in April, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced earlier this month.
The move is a response to support households as energy bills are set to rocket on average by £693 a year when new new price cap changes come into effect.
The Government are relying on local councils to distribute the payment and said authorities will be given details on who exactly qualifies.
Speaking at a recent Bolton Council scrutiny meeting, borough treasurer Sue Johnson told members that the process would be separate from council tax bills but would use council held data on band A to D properties to distribute the payment.
She confirmed that there were more than 30,000 households in Bolton eligible for the £150 payment where the bill payer did not use a direct debit, and went into detail about the challenge of paying those people.
She said: “All council tax payers in bands A to D are entitled to £150.
“The council will be the conduit for money out to residents.
“We don’t know a lot of detail yet about how the government will ask us to do that
“They may say it’s up to you to design your own way of doing it.
“They may have to tell us how they want us to do that.
“We do know is there are at least 30,000 who don’t pay by direct debit so we don’t have their bank account details.
“For those residents where we have bank details it will be very straightforward as we can put the money straight into their accounts.
“For the others we will need to devise a scheme that is simple to use and say how people will contact us.
“Some may be happy to share bank account details, some may not.
“We need to then devise a process which is fraud proof, which is easy to use and which will give us a security, to get the money out to residents.
“The government is saying they want those payments made in April
“But it is 30,000 individual transactions that our teams will have to verify and process.
“They are a brilliant team, but they’re not superhuman.
“So we just need to make sure that we support them as well as getting the money quite rightly out to residents.”
Opposition leader Cllr Nick Peel, said: “This is a worrying issue.
“The council team are being saddled with this.
“It will be incredibly difficult to do.
“30,000 residents don’t pay council tax by direct debit.
“This council has somehow got to get the £150 to them.
“The government has announced this without any thought of the costs to councils and the staffing costs.”