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Changes to council services

Last updated on: 15-Feb-2021

The Civic Centre will be open to visitors on an appointment only basis. Most business with us can be conducted online via this website, but if you cannot find the service you require, please call Customer Services on 01474 337000.

We have been working hard to make sure that we will still be able to provide essential council services during this pandemic. Our number one priority is keeping our community safe. At present frontline services are still running and we are rotating our staff working from home with as little disruption as possible whilst trying to prevent the further spreading of the virus.

See a list of service updates below. If we haven’t been able to answer your question, call us on 01474 337000.

Council Tax

As part of its response to COVID-19, the government announced in the Budget on 11 March that it would provide local authorities in England with £500 million of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area.

The government has since released guidance on the allocation of the Hardship Fund intended to support Council Tax payers of working age and in receipt of Local Council Tax Support.

For 2020/21 bills, the council has applied £150 to those entitled to Local Council Tax Support (or full relief where the account balance is less than £150). Recipients of the Hardship Fund have been issued with a new Council Tax bill now the relief has been applied to accounts.

Further support can be provided to those most affected by the current situation. Further details can be found in Annex A of the Council Tax Reduction Exceptional Hardship Policy.

Benefits

The Government has announced some changes to the benefits system to support people through COVID-19. Please note this information is correct as at 31 March 2020.

If your claim is affected by any of the changes below – you do not need to contact us. We will make the changes automatically.

Local Housing Allowance

From 1 April 2020 Local Housing Allowance (LHA) figures will increase to cover the 30 per cent of the market rent in this area.

What does this mean?

  • 1 April 2020 for calendar monthly rents
  • 6 April 2020 for weekly/fortnightly or four weekly rents

You're Housing Benefit will still be subject to the benefit calculation and what you get will be based on the LHA figure.

  • If your rent is more than the LHA figure - you can only get up to the LHA amount in benefit
  • If your rent is less than the LHA figure - you can only get up to the value of your rent in benefit

Please see https://www.gravesham.gov.uk/home/housing/housing-benefit/local-housing-allowance for details of the rates.

Changes to the earnings disregard

The additional earnings disregard has been increased from £17.10 to £37.10.

What does this mean?

The additional earnings disregard is an amount we can ignore from your wages or Working Tax Credit amount if you meet the criteria.

Why has this happened?

During this time, Working Tax Credit has been increased by up to £20.00 per week and if you get this you're Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction may go down. The additional earnings disregard increase means we can ignore more of your income and will make sure you keep as much of you're Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction as possible.

If you are not getting Working Tax Credit - you can still benefit from the increased disregard if you meet the criteria for it.

Other income changes

If your income has been affected by COVID-19 please report your changes to us straight away. For more information regarding changes please see https://www.gravesham.gov.uk/home/benefits/tell-us-about-a-change/overview

Rent Payments

Plans have been put in place to support people whose income, or ability to leave home, is affected by coronavirus. This covers people who are self-employed, who are forced to take time off work at a reduced wage to self-isolate or look after a family member and also looking at people who are over 70 and who are unable to get out to make payments due to self-isolation.

There is not a rent freeze or rent holiday but if you come under any of the affected categories please contact us on 01474 337 358 so that we can discuss this with you and put a plan in place. You may be able to claim help with your rent payments via Universal Credit and, if so, please visit the GOV.UK website to start your claim.

You may also be entitled to increased amounts on benefits you currently receive. If you think this may be the case please visit GOV.UK.

There are payment options available in self-isolation cases, such as paying on our website or contacting the number above to pay by debit card.

We appreciate this is a difficult time and we are committed to working with tenants to come to an affordable amount to pay whilst the situation is ongoing and also to come to an affordable repayment arrangement once things are back to normality. What we ask in return is that tenants maintain payments as far as they can in the meantime.

Parking

All parking restrictions and enforcement procedures have now returned to normal. Visit our parking section for further details.

Garden waste service

Garden waste is currently being collected as normal.

If you would like to subscribe to the garden waste service visit our garden bins section.

If you are an existing customer and would like to renew your subscription, you can do so by visiting our existing subscribers page.

Licensing

Taxi and Private Hire

For licence holders, the Institute of Licensing (IOL) has published some guidance in light of coronavirus (Covid-19).

For their latest guidance, please visit their news page.

Mandatory business closures

Mandatory Business Closures – the latest Government announcements about those Businesses and Premises Required To Close

To assist businesses looking to generate alternative sources of income, we have produced the following guide.

Changes to Food Business Delivery and Takeaway

Planning

Our Planning and Development Service remains contactable and available to provide advice at all stages of the planning application process so that value can continue to be added to development schemes. At the same time our approach allows for businesses looking to diversify their activities, to get advice about the latest government guidance.

Further information about the service is available on our Planning and Building section.

Cemeteries

Cemetery grounds are now open. We ask visitors to observe social distancing, not to gather in groups and not to use the grounds for anything other than tending to the resting places of loved ones. We thank you for your cooperation.

Visiting the Civic Centre

The Civic Centre is open for limited essential appointments only.

If the service you require cannot be accessed online please contact Customer Services to discuss on 01474 337000.

The Woodville Theatre

The Paul Greengrass Cinema has now re-opened for limited screenings. Visit The Woodvile's COVID-19 FAQ page for more details.

Gravesend Borough Market

Gravesham Borough Market is now open. Visit the Gravesend Borough Market website for more details.

Kent County Council

Libraries

Some Kent libraries have now re-opened. For full details, visit Kent County Council's Libraries page

All KCC services

For a full list of Kent County Council services affected by coronavirus, visit the KCC service updates page.

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