Support and financial advice during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Published on Friday 20 March 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has been described as a financial emergency as well as an unprecedented health emergency.

Anyone who is experiencing financial difficulties, concerns or questions about their own personal circumstances should seek out the right information and support as soon as they can.

Angus Council realises that some people who pay Council Tax and Rent may have their incomes affected as a result of the measures taken in response to COVID-19. That could result in them having difficulty in paying their Council Tax or Rent.

If you think you may have difficulty paying your Council Tax or Rent then please contact the Council as soon as possible on 03452 777 778 and we will discuss it with you.

Please bear with us. Like most other organisations and companies, we are facing daily challenges around staff absences and unavailability due to coronavirus.

We know that our phone lines will continue to be extremely busy so, if it is an option, please use our online services, including our Contact the Council webpage, which provides information on ways to get in touch and to access council services.

We also recognise that some people in Angus may now require to Access Welfare Entitlements, where they might not have needed to previously. You will find helpful information about Benefits and Money Advice on our website.

Our Welfare Rights Team can also offer support for anyone who needs assistance in making claims.

Customers facing extreme financial hardship can also apply for a Crisis Grant.

Organisations, including Voluntary Action Angus and Angus Citizens Advice Bureau are also stepping up a further gear in what are unparalleled times. They are a fantastic source of help, advice and support.

Angus Council Leader David Fairweather said: “We know these are unprecedented times and that they will create challenges for us all – including, in some cases, financial pressures.

“If you think you may have difficulty paying your council tax or your rent please contact us right away so our staff can talk it through with you.

“Every case will be looked at individually and we will be sympathetic to people’s circumstances. We can also look at whether you might be eligible for support through Universal Credit, or Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction. Our Welfare Rights Team can also help with advice and assistance for people requiring financial support.

“I fully appreciate that the steps taken across the UK to tackle this pandemic have given us all a lot to process, understand and respond to within a short space of time. They are measures that will be with us for some time yet.

“It’s already a well-used message but we are all in this together – but more importantly, I believe that we are all here to help one another whenever and wherever we can.”

Angus Council is also seeking to support the area’s Business Community.

From Sunday 22 March 2020, we will be altering our payment processes to ensure that all of our suppliers are paid at the first opportunity. This means invoices will be paid as soon as they are authorised, irrespective of what is stipulated on existing individual payment terms and conditions.

Angus Council Deputy Leader and Finance Convener, Cllr Angus Macmillan Douglas said: “Around 37% of our suppliers are local and we want to do whatever we can, where we can, to assist those parts of the local economy that do not have the same cash resilience that the Council itself has.”

Suppliers are still required to provide accurate and timely invoices and our same internal processes carried out. But once completed, payment will be made immediately in the next payment run.

A major support package for non-domestic rate payers was announced by the Scottish Government on Tuesday (17 March). We are working with government to put the detailed arrangements in place that will make this happen. It is a support package that provides relief to all rate payers, as well as targeted support for specific sectors, including grant awards for eligible businesses.

While we must await further detail from government – and it is expected imminently - we will immediately begin implement these plans, thereafter, to offer further relief and support.

Council officers are also working to put arrangements in place that will allow us to support key suppliers and partners with funding that will help them to stay solvent and to pay staff wages. It is a big task, but we will do it as quickly as possible.

We are acutely aware that many of the partners and businesses that provide important services to the Council and on our behalf are impacted by these sudden changes in circumstance. Time is of the essence and we will provide our response to these issues as soon as we possibly can next week.

Once again, anyone who thinks they may have difficulty paying their non-domestic rates bill should contact us so we can discuss matters further. Cases will be looked at individually and sympathetically.

Cllr Macmillan Douglas said: “Angus Council will do everything we can to support Angus citizens and businesses through this troubled time. Like other organisations, we too are affected by staff absences and are having to prioritise and adapt our resources as best we can.

“My thanks go out to all our staff, volunteers and the wider community for their professionalism, support and determination. We are exposed to significant change on a daily basis just now, but we stand ready to respond to whatever faces us and to support the people and businesses of Angus through these turbulent times.”