By Dan Whitworth and Jess Quayle
Money Box, BBC Radio 4

Media caption,

Watch the moments in February when the chancellor pledged a £150 council tax rebate would be paid “in” April

The Chancellor’s pledge that councils in England would make a £150 payment towards domestic energy bills “in April” has been broken in some areas.

While some have paid, Radio 4’s Money Box has found many have not and the guidance has changed to “from April”.

The deadline for payment, which applies to homes in council tax bands A-D, is September.

The government said councils were expected to begin making payments as soon as possible from April.

“Many councils have already started paying the rebate and we expect the rest to begin payments shortly,” the Levelling Up department told the BBC in a statement.

“The £150 council tax rebate will help millions of people deal with rising living costs, and we have provided an additional £144 million to councils to provide support to any household in need, regardless of council tax band,” it added.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which is responsible for the roll-out, did not answer a direct question about why the guidance had been changed or when that change happened.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, says they are working hard to process the payment and that required fraud checks and new software have caused delays.

Households can check their local council’s website for more information.

Image caption,

The guidance, as published in February (top), originally said people will get the rebate in April but the guidance, as it is now (bottom), says from April

In Wales and Scotland it is up to councils to decide how they pay this money out. In both countries the scheme also extends to people in council tax bands E to H if they get a reduction in the council tax due to low income.

In Scotland councils have been told they can give the £150 as a direct discount off their council tax – and many have done that.

There is no council tax in Northern Ireland but the executive there has been given money to make the payments but that is held up by the political uncertainty.

Energy bills are currently at record highs with a typical household likely to pay around an extra £700 per year since prices went up on 1 April.

Prices jumped by an average of 54% after the regulator, Ofgem, increased the price cap which limits how much energy companies can charge domestic customers.

Even then many households, like those in flats or who share communal heating networks, for example, are not protected by the price cap and so are facing even higher rises.

How many households have been paid?

It is impossible to tell exactly how many households have received the £150 council tax rebate.

Money Box has however found many councils have not begun the process of paying the thousands of people in their areas who are entitled to it.

It has also discovered that in many areas where even people who are first in the queue, because they pay their Council tax by direct debit, will not get the payment until May or even June.

Where they don’t pay by direct debit, around a third of households, they may have to wait until September.

The millions of bill payers who don’t use direct debit are being told to wait to be contacted by their councils to arrange payment but that process is already expected to draw the process out even longer.

You can hear more on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box programme on Saturday at 12pm or by listening again here shortly after broadcast.

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