Questions have been raised about how residents in Reading can benefit from a £150 Government payout to assist people amid the cost of living crisis.

Earlier this year, the Government launched a scheme to pay households in council tax bands A-D a £150 ‘rebate' from the tax to help alleviate the impact of rising energy costs.

A whopping sum of nearly £6 million (£5,945,400) has already been paid out to residents who pay council tax through direct debit, but those who pay in other ways have to apply for the rebate.

READ MORE: How to apply for council tax rebate in Reading

Councillor Rob White, the Green leader of the opposition and Park ward representative asked: “With everything getting more expensive and gas and electricity bills going through the uninsulated roof, the £150 council tax rebate is a drop in the ocean but better than nothing.

“However households not on direct debit does the council estimate to be eligible for this money and how many residents not on direct debit have applied so far?”

The question was answered by council leader Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote) on behalf of cllr Liz Terry (Labour, Coley) lead for corporate services and resources, who was absent from the meeting.

Cllr Brock answered: “Of the 60,000 eligible households, 39,636 residents have received their payment as a result of the council holding their direct debit details.

“It is estimated that applications will be required from just under 20,000 households.

“To date, just over 3,300 applications have been received, which represents 16 per cent of applications required.

“Over 90 per cent have been submitted by residents directly through the portal, with others being made over the phone.”

READ MORE: This is how much council tax you will be paying this year

Cllr Brock said information on how to apply can be found on a dedicated council webpage, which was launched on May 23.

The council also has a discretionary rebate for householders in Bands E to H, which can also be applied for on the webpage.

Cllr White asked how the council is making people aware of the application process.

Cllr Brock replied that the word has been spread through newsletters, advertising in libraries, emails to potential applicants, and a physical letter if no form of electronic communication is held.

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If residents don’t apply before the end of the scheme in October, the £150 will be credited to their council tax account to ensure universal coverage for those eligible.

Cllr White questioned: “Every week I’m speaking to someone in dire financial need, if we’re going to be making the payment towards the end of the process anyway, is there anything the council can do to bring that forward?”

Cllr Brock answered that that the council has to follow the procedures laid out by the Government and criticised the scheme, calling it ‘not well devised’ and insufficiently targeted.

The exchange took place at the council’s policy committee meeting on Monday, June 13.