More than 650 residents across the region are demanding council tax payments are suspended during the coronavirus outbreak.
They are among 100,333 people to sign a petition nationwide, which was set up in the wake of households being hit by job losses and other lost income.
It was created by Sherell Bayliss on Parliament’s website and now has enough signatures to trigger a debate among MPs. A response from the Government is also being awaited.
The petition states: “During the coronavirus outbreak, it is important that people have money for essentials such as utilities and food.
“The Government should require councils to suspend council tax payments, and directly fund local government operations, for the duration of the outbreak.”
Stokies and other residents from across our patch have been signing the petition in droves.
As of April 13, the breakdown of the signatories by parliamentary constituency included:
- Stoke-on-Trent North – 95
- Stoke-on-Trent Central – 123
- Stoke-on-Trent South – 85
- Newcastle-under-Lyme – 60
- Staffordshire Moorlands – 66
- Stone – 56
- Stafford – 48
- Congleton -42
- Crewe and Nantwich – 83.
But as the deadline can technically run up until September 26, the debate might not be held until the pandemic is over Parliament has also been looking at whether to hold virtual sessions when it is due to return from the Easter recess.
Barrie Harrington, chairman of Normacot Residents’ Association, supports the move.
He said: “There are a lot of people who’ve been furloughed who are on the minimum wage. They will struggle and could have even greater expenses than normal during the lockdown.
“Those who rent their homes will be hit the hardest. If you have a mortgage, you can at least get a mortgage-free period.
“Stoke-on-Trent City Council is also reducing all its services, so not paying council tax during the lockdown does make sense.
“At the moment, the Government is putting extra money into councils to help them. Every other organisation seems to be helping people, yet councils still say they want your money.”
The Government has announced a series of measures to help householders and businesses through the drastic economic impact of the lockdown.
- A coronavirus job retention scheme;
- Deferring VAT and self-assessment payments;
- A self-employment Income Support scheme;
- A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs);
- A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England;
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief;
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- The coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank;
- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans;
- The HMRC Time To Pay scheme.
You can view the petition here.