Harlow Council is offering reassurance to residents who may find themselves struggling to pay council bills due to the national coronavirus situation.
The council already has existing support in place for residents who are unable to pay bills. Residents are encouraged to contact the council immediately if their income changes so support can be provided quickly and before any arrears build up. There is also housing benefits and council tax support which can be claimed.
The council has also confirmed it will be relaxing its rules on rent arrears and non-payment of council tax.
No council tenants in Harlow will face eviction proceedings as a result of housing rent or garage arrears while the crisis continues.
The council is also working with residents to find alternative ways to pay bills while the Civic Centre closes to the public temporarily from Monday 23 March 2020. Residents can find details of these alternatives on the council’s website.
There will also be additional help available to local businesses struggling at this time. The government has announced a number of support measures for businesses including business rate relief. The council will implement these once it has had a chance to review the full information the government releases.
Councillor Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council, said:
“This is a difficult time for many and we know our residents are concerned about their financial situation both now and what it might be in the coming weeks. We can provide the reassurance that we will support those directly affected by the national coronavirus situation. At this difficult time people don’t need the extra stresses and strain of not knowing what to do if they can’t pay their council bills. We won’t evict our tenants for non-payment of rent during the crisis and we will look at options for residents temporarily unable to pay their council tax.
“It is however important that residents contact us as soon as they can if they are financially affected so the right support can be provided or new payment plans set up.
“As part of monitoring the national situation we will also implement as soon as we can any measures that the government is funding to help people and businesses who are financially struggling.
“We are also fortunate in our town that there are a number of local organisations who provide free money and debt advice over the phone and this is going to become particularly important to people in the coming months.
“Once the national crisis is over we will work with residents to get their accounts back on track.”
As well as local services such as the Harlow Citizens Advice Bureau (01279 770189) and Harlow Advice Centre (01279 704002). Advice and support is available from national organisations such as Step Change (0800 138 1111), the National Debt Line (0808 808 4000) or the Money Advice Service (0800 138 7777).
Where people can pay rent and council tax they should continue to do so. Not only will this avoid them building up debt but in particular Council Tax is a vital income which helps Harlow Council, Essex County Council, Essex Police and Essex Fire Service to provide services that people rely on including services that support vulnerable people.
Residents should phone 01279 446655 if they are struggling to pay a council bill. Information on support available can also be read on our coronavirus page