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Community / Call to donate council tax rebate to those most in need

Keeping warm is a challenge for many. Photo: Shetland Islands Citizens Advice Bureau

FUEL poverty charities in Scotland and the UK as well as the chief executive of an energy company specialising in pre-payment meters are all calling on householders to consider donating their £150 council tax rebate if they can afford to.

Earlier this month the Scottish Government announced the rebate for all band A to D council tax payers in a bid to help people struggling with dramatically increased energy bills.

But fuel poverty charities have been critical of the blanket move right from the moment it was announced, saying the measure was unfair and would not help those most at risk of not being able to pay their bills.

Scotland-wide the rebate will benefit 73 per cent of households, a figure that rises to 83.6 per cent in Shetland where the proportion of Band A to D properties is even higher than in the rest of Scotland.

Shetland Islands Council (SIC) has now confirmed that the rebate will automatically be applied to people’s council tax bills for 2022/23.

Monthly instalment payments will automatically be reduced. The SIC also confirmed that the full £150 rebate will apply for single occupancy households.

And in a separate move councillors decided last week to freeze the local council tax rate at the 2021/22 level, saving a Band D household a further £36.19 a year.

Chief executive of the fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland Frazer Scott said: “Far too many households in Scotland are struggling with the energy costs and essential food stuff as the cost of living is rising.

“The energy to heat their homes is simply unaffordable and many will simply go without. One in three households in Scotland are now identified as being in fuel poverty. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair.

“If you can donate the value of your council tax rebate because you have the means to stay warm and donate it to an organisation like ours, we will make sure that this goes to help people in the most difficult and challenging circumstances. It could save a life.”

For anyone able to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/DonateTheRebate

Bill Bullen, founder and chief executive of Utilita Energy, said letters have gone out to all local authorities in the UK with a plea to support this initiative.

“The Chancellor’s cost of living support package is a broad-brush stroke that will hit millions that don’t need it and leave millions of fuel poor households facing challenges that are just unimaginable for those who are lucky enough to afford the energy they need,” he said.

“I have spoken to lots of people who have said they would like to donate their council tax rebate to help the fuel poor, but most said they wouldn’t know how to.

“Therefore, I am urging all councils across Great Britain to include links to the National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland charities, where donations go direct to fuel poor households.”