ALL legal and any other enforcement action to recover unpaid council tax or business rates has been suspended by Stratford District Council.
No legal summonses will be issued, all scheduled court hearings will be cancelled and there will be no further contact by or action taken by enforcement agencies until further notice.
The collection of direct debits and other payment plans and options remain in place as normal as council tax and business rates must still be paid.
The step has been taken to help our residents and businesses deal with the financial issues caused by the virus.
A council spokesperson said: “The district council does not have the legal power to suspend council tax or business rates.
“We are also still legally required to issue annual council tax bills at this point, but we do understand that the timing of receiving a council tax bill now, may cause further concern to those in immediate financial difficulties.
“There have always been mechanisms in place to assist those with difficulties paying and we would urge residents to contact us quickly to discuss how we can help you at this difficult time.
“Our contact centre on 01789 267575 remains open and council staff want to help. Please, however, do bear with them as we are receiving an unprecedented number of calls during this time.
“Despite some announcements by central government on national media the usual regulations under which we have to operate remain in place. As and when they change, we will act as quickly as we are allowed.
“Following the announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak that additional business rate relief and grants will be made available to small businesses and those in the worst-affected sectors of retail, leisure and hospitality, which affect this district particularly badly, we stand ready to get this money to local businesses as soon as we can.
“The government has advised local councils that they can expect the funding for this hardship grant in early April and we expect more guidance on the distribution of this money.”
Council leader Tony Jefferson said “We strongly welcome the plans laid out by the Chancellor to help businesses and residents who will be affected financially by the coronavirus.
“We share the concerns of national government and echo their sentiments that we will do whatever it takes to help our residents keep their businesses and keep their homes. We want people to come out come out of the other side of this in the best possible shape.
“We will be announcing further details of how of we are going to be offering practical help when the funding is received in due course – as a council we will do whatever it takes to support our residents during these unprecedented times. We are already getting a feel for the scale of the issues we are all facing.
“One of our contact centre staff had five consecutive calls from people who had lost their jobs this week. We are also getting a lot of calls from businesses. We recognise that, given the nature of businesses in our district we are going to be hit hard by this crisis.”