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Customer Service Delays

A new document management system has recently been implemented for our Council Tax and Benefits teams. While staff are being trained and familiarise themselves with the new system, we expect for there to be some processing delays. The new system has also been rolled out to our Contact Centre staff, so long waiting times can be expected should you need to ring us. There may also be occasions when we may need to close the telephone line to our Council Tax customers if waiting times become excessive. We appreciate that the current processing times and waiting times to speak to our Contact Centre will be frustrating and we would encourage customers to use online processes wherever possible.

Council tax energy rebate 

On 3 February 2022, the government announced support to help households with rising energy bills including a one-off £150 energy rebate payment to council tax payers in bands A-D. This rebate is not a loan and does not need to be repaid.

You can find the details including FAQs and an Easy Read guide here.

How will the council tax rebate work?

Guidance for the scheme has been released and we are working to design a process for households to receive payment and expect to be able to provide an update in the next few weeks.

You can read the Government's flyer about the scheme here.

Second homes and empty properties will not be eligible for the payment.

Eligible households in bands A to D and paying their council tax by Direct Debit may receive their payment first directly into their bank account. If you already pay your council tax by Direct Debit please just continue to do so. If you don’t yet pay your council tax by Direct Debit you can sign up for a Direct Debit here – you will need your council tax account reference to hand.

Sign up for paperless e-billing

By opting to receive your new council tax bill electronically, we will be able to contact you easily by email. And you will be saving paper. If you don’t already receive your bill by email, sign up for paperless ebilling here – you will need your council tax account reference to hand.

How to check the council tax band for your property

The band for your property is shown on your council tax bill above the charge details – look for the words 'Annual Charges for Council Tax Band'.

You can also check your Council Tax band on the Government website.

The wait time for our Council Tax call handlers to answer your call can vary at different times of the day. The lines can be especially busy at the beginning of the working week. If you have received a letter from us and need to speak to a call handler, please bear in mind that many other residents will have also received a letter and they too are trying to call us.

One Stop Shops

Sefton Council has two One Stop Shops located within the borough dealing with a range of face to face enquiries for many of our Council Services.
Bootle One Stop Shop is located on 324 Stanley Road, Bootle, L20 3ET
Southport One Stop Shop is located within The Atkinson, Lord Street, Southport, PR8 1DB
For Bootle One Stop Shop you can drop-in during the hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday or alternatively you can request an appointment. Bootle One Stop Shop is at its busiest during the hours of 12pm to 2.00pm, please try to avoid these hours, should you wish to keep your waiting time to a minimum. 
For Southport One Stop Shop recently relocated from Cambridge Arcade to The Atkinson, we offer an appointment only service during the hours of 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
If you require an appointment for either One Stop Shop please contact our Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.

If you use our online forms to contact us, your enquiry will be handled sooner.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls to our Contact Centre and requests to our Council Tax Teams -  in part due to the cost of living crisis, the £150 Council Tax Energy Rebate, local elections, allocation of school places and the administration of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Both teams are currently prioritising supporting the most vulnerable, the processing of the £150 energy rebate to 114,000 households  and those in need of help and support from our Emergency Limited Assistance Scheme (ELAS). 

As at 27th April the teams have processed the £150 Energy Rebate to 45,256 households (in Council Tax Bands A – D). These payments have been made to households that have paid Council Tax by Direct Debit where the instalment was paid between 1st – 18th April.  For those whose direct debit is paid from 19th to the 28th April their rebate will be paid by mid-May.  For households in Bands A to D that do not pay by direct debit, we will be writing to them by 6th May to collect information from them that will enable us to process their rebate over the coming months. 

We appreciate that the current response times will be frustrating for people trying to contact the Council, so we have taken steps to recruit and train additional staff, and our staff are working extra hours to help meet the demand. We would encourage people to use online processes wherever possible. 

This page will be regularly updated with expected timescales for handling enquiries. If you have not received a response to your original enquiry, we request that you do not make a follow-up enquiry within the timescales detailed below as this will only add to the delays we are currently experiencing.

We apologise for the delays and are working hard to reduce the time taken to dealing with current level of enquiries.

Application for a Discount/Exemption – response up to 22 weeks

Please note that if you have not supplied supporting evidence where required this may delay the processing of your application.

Apply for a council tax discount or exemption 

Change of Address / Household Occupier Details – response time up to 23 weeks.

Notify us about your change of address.

Other Enquiries – response time up to 17 weeks.

We understand that receiving a summons can be very worrying if you are unable to pay the amount due in full. It is our desire to agree reasonable payment arrangements. 

Make an offer to repay your council tax.

Once completed, we will suspend further recovery action until your offer is accepted and a new formal arrangement made to pay your remaining Council Tax in instalments.

After you have completed the form please make payments as per your offer until a member of the Council Tax team contacts you. We aim to respond to all offers of payment within 10 working days.

If you are on a low income you may be eligible to receive Council Tax Reduction. Details of the scheme and the online application process is in the link below.

Find out if you're eligible for a council tax reduction

If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, you may be able to request an Exceptional Hardship Fund payment if you are experiencing hardship caused by unusual or extreme circumstances. The Exceptional Hardship Fund application process is in the link below. 

Request an Exceptional Hardship Fund payment

Have you considered helping the environment by having your Council Tax bill sent to you electronically?

Sign up to e-billing by completing our online form

Last Updated on Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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