A COUNCILLOR wants more to be done to ensure Bromsgrove residents struggling to pay their council tax are given support, after it was revealed only a third of the budget for the hardship fund was spent last year.

The total budget for the year was £25,000 but £16,268 was left unused and transferred back.

Cllr Peter McDonald, who asked for the figures from the council's director of finance and resources, has now questioned whether enough is done to make people aware of the scheme.

He said: “Many people in Bromsgrove are experiencing financial hardship and there is a failure in the way Bromsgrove runs this fund resulting in failures to reach people in need.

"A large number of people in the district are facing hunger and destitution because of universal credit, bedroom tax and cuts to benefits in general.

"There is no hiding the fact that we have people sleeping in the local grave yard.

"If this hardship fund was made available to those in need we would be like other authorities, seeking a top up.

"Instead many who find themselves destitute are not aware they can apply for monies from the council.

"What is needed is a bit more innovation by Bromsgrove District Council to reach the people who desperately need it, before the local grave yard is full of people who are destitute through no fault of their own.”

Applications for hardship payments, which reduce Council Tax bills, can be made to the council on 01527 881288.

Jayne Pickering, director of finance and resources, said: “The Council’s Hardship Fund is made available to help working-age people on low incomes if they can’t pay their Council Tax due to exceptional circumstances.

"It’s one of the ways the council supports people who are already on low incomes to avoid getting into arrears with their Council Tax due to temporary money problems beyond their control.

"If you think you might have problems paying your Council Tax, then regardless of what level of support you already receive please contact the council immediately as there may be help available. Please don’t let any problems grow.”