‘HUGE’ numbers of Barnsley residents struggling to pay council tax bills as a result of the heavily criticised Universal Credit rollout are in line for a discount up to 82.5 per cent, a report released this week has revealed.

 

Universal Credit, which was intended to simplify what was thought to be a complicated benefits system, includes a range of different payments made to those who qualify but claimants have reported delays of up to five weeks.

 

It came into effect in Barnsley in July 2017 but has been blighted by complaints and, according to MPs in the town, has left residents with little choice but to rely on foodbanks and fall into arrears with their bills.

 

According to Barnsley Council, it has had an ‘adverse impact’ on claimants paying council tax bills, leading to reduced collection rates, higher levels of arrears and increased use of enforcement action.

 

Last week it was revealed that more than 12,000 households have been identified as being eligible for a council tax discount from April - despite the overall bill being earmarked to rise by 3.9 per cent - but this week the council unveiled its intended structure.

 

A cabinet report said: “The highest level of discount will be set at a maximum level of 82.5 per cent of the total liability, followed by 72.5 per cent, 50 per cent and 25 per cent.

 

“As a result, the revised scheme is less likely to add to the debt burden of low income households than the current scheme.”