MORE people in Oxford may need to claim financial help with their council tax and their rent as a result of Covid 19.

That is the prediction which was made by Oxford City Council finance officers, as senior councillors on the cabinet discussed changes to two schemes designed to help people on low income with their living costs.

In a report about changes to Council Tax Reductions (CTR) there were predictions that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to more people in the city claiming these benefits as they lose work due to the economic downturn.

The report added: "uncertainty remains around the number of CTR claims the council is likely to see when the government’s furlough scheme ends in October 2020."

A second council report predicted more people may need help from a benefit called Discretionary Housing Payments, which is given out to help cover rental payments for low income families.

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According to July HMRC statistics quoted by the council, 17,400 employees were furloughed in the Oxford East constituency, and 12,800 were furloughed in Oxford West and Abingdon.

Some of these may have already returned to work, but others could be at risk of losing their jobs when furlough ends in October.

The tax reductions give people a discount on the amount they have to pay each month to the council.

After agreement by the cabinet, the council is now asking people living in the city what they think of plans to change how the discounts are given out, through banding system linked to Universal Credit payments.

UC payments can vary each week depending how much work someone has done.

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In a public consultation, the council has said the banding system would simplify the system, and make it more likely that people would pay the same amount of council tax each month.

The extra discounts would not only affect the city council's budget, but also the budgets for Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council.

Separately, a report on Discretionary Housing Payments said the council is expecting more people to claim this benefit, which is aimed at stopping people from becoming homeless by paying part of their rent.

The cabinet agreed a change in its policy on these payments so that it can now be used to help people moving on from temporary accommodation they were given at the start of the pandemic.

The city council took part in a UK-wide scheme called 'Everyone In' which aimed to house as many rough sleepers as possible during lockdown.

As a result of this, many who previously lived on the streets are now in halfway housing.