The Cabinet gave consideration to a report of the Director of Finance which sought approval of the use of Hardship Funding Grant awarded by Central Government in 2020/21 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government awarded Oldham Council a grant of £3,015,434, and this report provided the detail of how the Council would award the Council Tax element of this grant funding using the discretionary powers under Section13A (1) (c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and set out the proposals for the use of the balance of funding.
It was reported that as part of its response to COVID-19, the Government announced in the Budget on 11 March 2020 that it would provide Local Authorities in England with £500 million of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area. The intention was that there would be up to £150 support for working age Council Tax Reduction recipients (anyone paying less than £150 will have the relevant amount credited to their accounts so there is no balance outstanding).
Members were advised that the excess of the Hardship Fund grant award would be used firstly to ensure CTR claimants are not detrimentally affected by the change in Housing Benefit earning disregard regulations introduced under the Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/371). The new regulations increased the disregard from income that applies to the calculation of Housing Benefit (HB) where a person is entitled to Working Tax Credit (WTC), or works for a specified minimum number of hours per week (the additional earnings disregard). The relevant shortfall created by the increase in WTC will be funded through Section13A (1) (c) payments via the Council’s Exceptional Hardship Payment scheme.
The balance of any funding would then be used to support a temporary amendment to the Local Welfare Provision scheme so that applications can be considered in exceptional circumstances to meet immediate need from extremely vulnerable households who may not be in receipt of means tested benefits.
Option 1 - Cabinet approves the proposed use of the Hardship Fund grant awarded by Central Government as set out at Section 2 of the report
Option 2 - Cabinet does not approve the proposed use of the Hardship Fund grant awarded by Central Government as set out at Section 2 of the report and suggests alternative arrangements.
RESOLVED – That: