Thousands of households could be missing out on support to ease the cost of living crisis as councils fail to pay their energy bills rebate.
Brits are facing the biggest squeeze on living standards in 30 years as bills soar and inflation jumps.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a support package revealing that millions of households in the UK will receive energy bill discounts totalling £350 to help with soaring costs.
There will be a repayable £200 discount on bills from October and a further £150 council tax rebate for most households in England “in April”, the guidance said.
However, an investigation by Radio 4’s Money Box has found that many councils have failed to make the £150 payment.
In addition, the wording of the payment date in the guidance has changed from “in April” to “from April”.
The council tax rebate will be for all households in England that are in council tax bands A, B, C or D - the government says this covers around 80 per cent of all homes or around 15 million households.
"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 Local Government Association, which represents councils, has suggested that fraud checks and new software have caused delays to payment processing.
Councils are responsible for distributing the Government rebate and deciding how to run the claims process, which has led to discrepancies in the timing of payments.
For example South Derbyshire council said the software it is using needs to be tested before it can dispense the payments and thousands of households will likely not receive their £150 before late May or early June.
Many households who pay their council tax by direct debit have already received their payments, or will do first in the week, because their bank details are held on their local authority’s system.
But councils are having to set up an application process for those who do not pay monthly, which will not be ready before mid-May for many local authorities.
Town halls have also been told not to give out the rebate to homes until they have paid April’s council tax bill, which has led to delays if the direct debit comes out towards the end of the month.
A HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear, including in our press notice and the leaflet which went out to millions of households, that the £150 council tax rebate to help with the cost of living would be paid “from” April.
“All Local Authorities have received their grant from the government to issue payments to households in Bands A-D – and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is working at pace with Local Authorities’ to distribute this money as quickly as possible”