If you have difficulty paying your council tax

If you receive your council tax bill and are unable to pay the instalments requested, please contact the Revenues Section immediately (01277 312500). If you contact us early we can check that your liability is correct. 

Check if you are entitled to council tax support

Not everyone has to pay the full council tax, please go to the Council Tax Discount web page for further information.

Even if you are not entitled to a council tax reduction or discount, we may be able to help you by spreading your instalments over a longer period. Please contact the Revenues Section and ask for assistance to make a payment arrangement.

If you fail to pay any instalment, you will receive a reminder. The reminder gives you 7 days in which to pay the outstanding amount.

If you have already received two reminders in a year and then fail to pay a further instalment, which is due in that year, you will lose the right to pay by instalments. A third reminder does not need to be issued and you will become liable to pay the remaining amount for the full financial year. The full bill falls due the day after immediately after the missed payment.

What you should do if you receive a reminder

If you receive a reminder, you should pay the amount requested immediately. If you are unable to do so, you should contact the Recovery section (01277 312500). You may be able to make an arrangement to pay the arrears with your next instalments.

For further information on what happens if you do not pay please go to the Recovery and enforcement web page.

Hardship cases

We appreciate that for some people, it may be difficult to pay Council Tax on top of all the other bills that people are required to pay. Our scheme provides assistance for claimants facing hardship to ensure that they are getting the right level of support. In cases where no further support is available the Council has identified a hardship fund to assist with meeting the Council Tax. Further information can be found on the Hardship Funds web page

Peabody

Please note - Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the Council reception is currently closed.

Peabody (formerly called Family Mosaic) provide a free service for vulnerable people who need support with housing related issues such as paying rent or claiming benefit.

Drop in sessions are held in the Council's reception on the following days:

Monday 2 - 4.30pm
Wednesday 2 - 4:30pm
Friday 10am - 2pm

For information on other drop in sessions in the area please contact Peabody on 0800 022 4040 (free from landlines) or 020 7021 4444

Essential living fund

This scheme is a grant system and is open for anyone to claim. The scheme is run by Southend on Sea Borough Council for the whole of Essex. Brentwood Borough Council can not deal with any enquiries about the scheme.

To see whether you qualify for the award you will need to answer questions about your income, earnings and savings. You also need to give proof of your financial situation.

The scheme can cover applications for:

  • furniture
  • household furnishings
  • white goods
  • clothing and footwear
  • general living expenses - these are day to day living expenses such as groceries, nappies, toiletries, money for pay as you go fuel meters.

If you are awarded the grant you will not be paid in cash or into a bank account. Instead it will be:

  • food parcel/food voucher
  • AllPay cards
  • high quality recycled furniture from reputable charity
  • white goods from a reputable local dealer.

How to apply for an Essential Living Fund grant

For General Living Expenses (e.g. groceries, nappies, toiletries, hygiene products and fuel) apply by calling us on 0300 7900124 between 8:45am - 5:15pm.

For furniture/white goods/clothing and footwear/household equipment by using the online application form:

Note: any furniture, furnishing or household equipment will be refurbished. White goods will be reconditioned.

This is operated by Southend on Sea Borough Council and not by Brentwood Borough Council.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) Who do I contact about the Essential Living Fund?

In all instances Southend on Sea Borough Council's Essential Living Fund Team. Call them on 0300 7900124 (this number is charged at local rates from any number including mobiles and must be included in any minutes you have with your mobile contract) Opening hours: 8.45 to 5.15.Brentwood Borough Council does not deal with queries about the Essential Living Fund.

Q) I work and receive an income, can I still apply for an Essential Living Fund?

Yes you can. You can make an application if you are in receipt of benefit or working and receive a low income. All applications are considered and all financial information and personal circumstances will be looked at to determine whether you are eligible. This decision will be made by the Essential Living Fund Team of Southend on Sea Borough Council. Brentwood Borough Council has no say in the decision making process at all.

Q) How many times can I use the fund?

In order to protect the fund from persistent claimers Southend on Sea Borough Council decided to limit the number of applications. Limiting the number of repeat claims will ensure that the fund is not abused and is available for those in true need.

For help with furniture, furnishings, household equipment, clothing, footwear it will not normally be appropriate to make an award for the same expense if it has been less than 12 months since the last application, unless, there has been a relevant change in circumstances that require a reapplication for the same expense - for example an application is made and agreed for a bed, the bed is destroyed in a house fire and the applicant applies for another bed.

For help with 'general living expenses' no more than 3 awards should be given in any 12 month rolling period.

NOTE: For each application within the 12 month period the ELF team may offer additional advice or direct you to those who have more advance expertise in helping you overcome financial issues and budgeting problems.

Q) I have lost my award letter or forgotten my reference number what shall I do?

If you lose your award letter or forget your reference number contact the ELF team on the Hotline number 0300 7900124 do not contact Brentwood Borough Council.

Q) I have been granted items or furniture, how do I go about getting them?

The Essential Living Fund Team will explain how you get the items in a decision letter.

Q) I have been awarded an AllPay card. What is it and how does it work?

Answer:

An AllPay card will be awarded in the main for the following:

  • Clothing/Footwear
  • Gas and Electric emergency top ups

An AllPay card is similar to a Visa debit card. The card can be used in any store that accepts Visa. The card is only to be used for the purchase of the items applied for in the application form.

An amount of credit will be loaded onto a card. The Essential Living Fund Team will tell you the specific allocation point you need to pick the card up from and what you will need to bring in order to receive the card.

Once you have the card the letter that accompanies the card will have an activation code. You will need to contact Allpay using the phone number on the letter to activate the card. Once activated you will be able to use the card in the relevant shops to purchase your goods or to top up your gas and electric. The letter will also detail the terms and conditions on using the card for example what shops the card will not work in and that the card can not be used in a cash machine.

Extra help for pensioners

Pension Credit

If you’re 60 or over you can apply for Pension Credit to top up your income to a weekly minimum

Help with fuel bills

Cold weather payment

Winter fuel payment

If you’re on a low income you may be able to claim up to £1,500 for energy efficiency and heating improvements for your home

If you are disabled

You can get Attendance Allowance if you’re state pension age or over and need help with personal care because of an illness or disability.

If you’re severely disabled, someone who looks after you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance. If you look after someone who’s severely disabled, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance

Help with health costs

You may be entitled to help with various health costs, including prescriptions, eye tests and dental treatment.

War widow(er) pension

You can claim a tax-free pension if your husband or wife died because of war service or received a War Pension or related allowance.

Who can I contact for more information?

To find out more about pension credit, you should contact the Pension Service directly

Other help available

If you are in debt and finding it hard to cope, it is important to deal with the problem immediately. You can get free and independent advice from organisations like Citizens Advice and Money Advice.

Making Every Penny Count

Citizens Advice Brentwood has developed a digital tool, ‘Making Every Penny Count’ to improve the financial wellbeing of our local residents.

This digital brochure is packed full of helpful ways to maximise household income, save money and prevent financial problems, designed specifically to help anyone living in the south of Essex:

Budgeting tool

The first vital step in taking control of your finances is to create your own personal budget plan. Our user friendly budget planner is free to use and should only take minutes to complete if you have all your financial information to hand.

Budget Planner

The government website Gov.uk provides useful information on where to get free help and advice.

Discretionary housing payments

If the Council considers that you require further financial assistance you may be awarded a ‘Discretionary Housing Payment’.

Further information on Discretionary Payments can be found here:

Discretionary Payments

Income support

If you qualify for the maximum amount of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support payable - or you would do if not for the amount of any non-dependant deductions made from your entitlement - you may qualify for Income Support. If you are a lone parent working less than 16 hours per week, a pensioner or are unable to work through illness and think you may qualify for Income Support, you should contact the Benefits Agency.

Child tax credit

Child Tax Credit is administered by the HM Revenue and Customs. For information please go to the Gov.UK website.

Working tax credit

Working Tax Credit is administered by the HM Revenue and Customs. For information please go to the Gov.UK website.

State benefits

If you are on a low income, are disabled or a pensioner, there may be additional help available to you. For information and details of the amount of various state benefits available please go to the Gov.UK website.

Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for independent advice: Citizens Advice Bureau, Town Hall, Ingrave Road, Brentwood, Tel. 01277 222888

Useful numbers

  • Age UK Essex - Formerly Age Concern, Age UK is an independent local charity working with and for senior citizens in Essex. 01245 346106 www.ageuk.org.uk
  • Business Debt Line - A business helpline providing free, confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. 0800 197 6026
  • Concessionary Transport Fares - Brentwood residents who are concessionary bus pass holders can now travel on buses from 9am for free on journeys that start in Essex. However, this does not include travel on long distance or express coach services or “special” services such as tours or excursions. For further details call 0845 200 0388 or apply for a bus pass online.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau - An independent voluntary organisation offering a comprehensive, confidential and free information, advice and advocacy service. 08454 04 05 06 www.adviceguide.org.uk 
  • Civil Legal Advice - Free and confidential legal advice. 0345 345 4345 Gov.UK
  • Stepchange - formerly the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) - Stepchange offer a structured programme on how to manage your money. They offer a debt remedy plan an anonymous service that will give you sound advice and budget planning 24/7. 0800 138 1111 (freephone) www.cccs.co.uk 
  • Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre - Provides free impartial advice on ways to save money on fuel bills and on grant schemes for insulation and heating works. 0300 123 1234 www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
  • Job Centre Plus - Jobs and benefits advice. 0345 604 3719 www.gov.uk/jobsearch 
  • National Debt Line - Free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. 0808 808 4000 National debt line 
  • Payplan - Free confidential advice on debt problems. 0800 280 2816 (or 0207 760 8980) www.payplan.com 
  • Shelter - A homelessness charity that runs a homelessness helpline, has a network of housing aid centres and works with the local Citizens Advice Bureau. 0808 800 4444 calls are free from UK landlines and most mobile providers www.shelter.org.uk 
  • Stop Loan Sharks - If you are the victim of a loan shark, help and support is available - please do not suffer in silence Stop Loan Sharks
  • Brentwood Borough Council - 01277 312500 for general enquiries or email revenue@brentwood.gov.uk

The Financial Ombudsman Service is a free and easy to use service that settles complaints between consumers and businesses.