A request from the BBC Freedom of Information has revealed that over three million UK households were still recorded to be waiting on receiving their £150 payment towards helping with energy costs at the beginning of July.
Local councils had been expected to start paying the £150 rebates to UK households from April earlier this year, and have until September to do so. While they have until the end of September to issue the payments, the UK Government told them these should be made “as soon as possible from April” onwards.
Around 97% of households who pay their energy bills via direct debit had received this payment by June.
However, only half of UK households who pay for their energy bills in alternative ways had received their rebate by June, and this group typically includes lower-income households.
The £150 rebate payment has been made available to UK households in council tax bands A to D, as well as including E if an individual has a disability.
Different schemes apply outside of England. For instance, In Scotland, households received a £150 credit voucher applied to their council tax bills, or in the form of a cheque. By the beginning of July, around 3,000 households in Scotland were still waiting on the £150 payment. Furthermore, the Northern Ireland Assembly received an equivalent sum of money to hand out to local households.
In Scotland, the scheme ran differently, with a £150 credit applied to council tax bills, or paid as a cheque to households exempt from paying. By 1 July, around 3,000 households in Scotland were waiting for the payment.
The £150 payment was first announced by the former UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, in March earlier this year as part of a set of government responses to the escaping energy crisis.
It is important to note that not all UK households, especially the poorest, do not pay their energy bills through a direct debit. Instead, they use cheques, council tax credit and vouchers for example.
Consumer champion Justine Gray commented: “These grants are so essential for some households, especially with our dramatic changes in climate and the rising costs in other living costs such as petrol and groceries.”
“The fast distribution of these grants and rebates is key to avoid dependency on loan sharks or even payday loans.”
The Post Office has worked with 105 local councils to offer vouchers to these households. By mid-August, they will have processed over a million vouchers, equating to £174 million. Those who receive the vouchers in the post will need to take them to their local Post Office to be scanned and processed. They will be provided with the option to put this £150 voucher straight onto their meter, use it to pay towards another bill, or receive the funds in cash.
For the three million UK households yet to receive their £150 rebate, they should consult their local council about which methods they are using to process these payments. This may involve confirming their address if the cheque or Post Office voucher has been lost in the post.
If they are yet to receive the payment by the end of September, then their local council is obliged to reduce their council tax bill by £150.
A government spokesperson told the BBC earlier this week that local “councils have been given £28m to deliver the payments, including to set up software and recruit staff, and they have until the end of September to do so. We are urging councils to make payments without further delay and have given a host of options to do this quickly and securely – including bank account transfers, council tax account credits or a voucher-based system.”