A new hardship fund has been created to help flood victims in Bath and North East Somerset with the cost of their Council Tax.
The new fund, proposed by Conservative councillors, will allow residents to apply for a grant to cover the cost of the Council Tax for up to six months whilst their homes are uninhabitable due to flooding or fire.
The fund has been created after B&NES decided to scrap a previous Council Tax exemption which had meant flood victims paid no Council Tax on their empty home whilst repair work was carried out.
Conservative councillor for Chew Valley North Liz Richardson took up the issue after being contacted by residents affected by recent flooding who had letters from B&NES telling them they would have to re-start paying Council Tax on their flooded properties from April.
At the Council’s budget meeting last Tuesday, Councillor Richardson moved an amendment to create the new hardship fund to help mitigate the impact of the changes to Council Tax discounts. The amendment was accepted as part of the Council’s budget for this year.
Councillor Liz Richardson, (Cons, Chew Valley North) said:
“I’m delighted that our proposal has been adopted by the Council. The new hardship fund will mean that residents who have had to abandon their homes due to flooding will be able to access a grant to cover the cost of their Council Tax whilst their home is uninhabitable.
“This fund is not just for flood victims though, someone who has had to leave their home due to fire will also be eligible, and I hope that any victim of a natural disaster would be considered for a grant. I will be discussing with council officers how this new fund will be administered as I would like it introduced as soon as possible, with those eligible to use it written to informing them.”
Fellow Chew Valley councillor Vic Pritchard (Cons, Chew Valley South) added:
“It doesn’t seem fair to ask people who have had their houses flooded to pay Council Tax on their empty home, when they will already be paying Council Tax on their temporary rented accommodation as well. Both Liz and I have had a number of residents contact us about this issue, so I’m pleased that this fund will rectify the anomaly created by the ending of the previous Council Tax exemption.”