The government announced, in their spending review, £670 million 2021-22 for Local Authorities to help with the increased costs associated with the pandemic, but this money is not ringfenced so Local Authorities can decide whether to spend it to help with council tax bills or to provide other support to vulnerable households, including through local welfare schemes.
Local Authorities in England were given £500 million of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area ( announced in the government's Budget 2020 statement).
Guidance was sent to Local Authorities in March 2020 outlining what the government planned to do with this money:
'The Government’s strong expectation is that billing authorities will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support (‘LCTS’) during the financial year 2020-21 with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150, using their discretionary powers to reduce the liability of council tax payers outside of their formal LCTS scheme design.'
In other words, where someone liable for the Council Tax is working age and getting Council Tax Support/Reduction, then their Council Tax account should have been credited with £150 or until the Council Tax bill is zero (ie if their liability is below £150pa). This level of £150 could be increased by individual Local Authorities depending on how much of their grant allocation was left.
Note that the minimum required to be paid by all working age bill payers - set by local restrictions - is ignored for this purpose (for instance where the local scheme restricts entitlement to 85% of liability, the full amount of £150 should be credited even if this means that the bill payer now has less than 15% to pay themselves).
Further guidance to Local Authorities in the form of Q&As
was published on 16 April 2020.
In Scotland only. there was an increase in the Council Tax Reduction earnings disregard to take account of the temporary increase in the Working Tax Credit basic element. Regulations here.
This ends 4 April 2021.