DURHAM County Council has said it is working hard with extra staff to pay £150 rebates despite customers still waiting for their money.

The council has said it has already paid out more than £22m ahead of a Government deadline of the end of September to make all payments.

The £3 billion council tax rebate is being paid by the Government to help with rising energy and living costs.

People who pay council tax by direct debit for band A to D homes have been receiving the one-off £150 rebate in their bank accounts, but those who do not pay by direct debit have to claim the rebate themselves.

There are 84,000 Band A to D households in Durham which do not pay council tax by direct debit - more than a third of 233,000 taxpayers in those bands.

Read more: Some households in Durham and Darlington could get council tax rebate

However, some have contacted The Northern Echo and said they are still waiting to have their rebate.

Philip Herbert, 52, from Crook, said he had been left waiting and accused the council of "penalising" those who do not pay a direct debit. 

The 52-year-old Work Coach said: "Why the delay? It just seems we're being penalised for not paying by direct debit.

"Nothing happened so in the middle of May I rang them. I spoke to a lady and she said, don't worry, you'll be receiving this payment by the end of May."

However, at time of publication, this payment had not been made. 

He added: "I checked the website again. It now says end of June. I'm still waiting. I don't know why they haven't sorted it out with the non-direct debit.

"I just thought, why this further delay? Why can't they make it easier?

Read more: Fears over Darlington Council's £150 council tax rebate to residents

"I can't believe that a council as big as Durham wouldn't have a list of those who are non-direct debit and can just send out standard letters, then they can do the checks."

He said he paid other bills by direct debit, but chose not to do so for council tax: "I just took control of that.

"I just ring them and pay over the phone. I pay every month no problem. I've never defaulted on them.

"It just seems a bit unfair. It just seems rather unreasonable to have to wait this long now."

In response, Mary Readman, Durham County Council’s head of transactional and customer services at the council, said: “We are working hard to ensure that all residents receive their £150 award as quickly as possible.

"Given the high volume of payments, due to County Durham being one of the biggest local authority areas in the country, we have brought in additional staff to assist.

“To date we have made more than 144,000 payments worth more than £22.4m. In addition so far, we have made payments totalling £276,200 through our discretionary scheme.

“We can assure those residents yet to receive their payments that we are doing everything in our power to make sure they get their money as quickly as possible.

Read more: 16,000 plus letters to go to non-DD taxpayers for rebate in Darlington

“We have been writing to those who do not pay by direct debit since mid-May inviting them to apply for their payments and explaining we need information from them to process their claims.

"Given the volume, we are prioritising those who are vulnerable.

“Nevertheless we are doing all we can to ensure everyone receives their payments as soon as we can, including offering to complete applications for those not comfortable with claiming online.

“The government has set councils a deadline of September 30 to make all payments of the £150 and we will ensure all residents receive their awards or have their council tax account credited by then at the very latest.”

More information is available on durham.gov.uk/counciltaxenergyrebate.

Are you still waiting for your rebate? How is this affecting you? Tell us your story by contacting newsdesk@nne.co.uk or calling 01325 505054.


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