South London man, 56, on full benefits due to mobility issue says he’s ‘already stockpiling food for winter’ after not receiving £150 council tax rebate

A south London man on full benefits due to a mobility issue says he is already stockpiling food for winter after not yet receiving his £150 Council Tax Rebate. Mark Parker, 56, who lives in Lambeth, says he is “anxious all the time” about the growing cost of living crisis, and angry at his council’s sluggishness to get the rebate out to those residents who he says “need the money the most.”

Mark, who receives Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) due to a mobility issue which has left him unable to work for over a year, told MyLondon he is so anxious about the rising price of fuel he has already started stockpiling non-perishable food for winter. He fears he will soon have to choose between whether to ” put the lights on or to buy a meal.”

When I go to the supermarket now everything’s gone up,” said Mark. “My LIDL shop the other day was considerably more than I expected it to be, much more than it used to be. I was really really taken aback.”

Mark said he’s terrified government provisions such as the £150 rebate aren’t going to be enough when winter comes round. He is worried he will find himself too cash-strapped to afford fuel, and not for the first time. ” I don’t want to go back to that place where I’m having to choose between staying warm or having something to eat,” said Mark.

Mark said he’s terrified of going back to the choice between ‘staying warm or having something to eat’

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“It’s going to get a lot worse, I know that,” he said, adding, ” I can just about afford to buy my shop, but I’m already thinking about making cuts so I’ve got savings and food enough for the winter.” Mark said he has cut out all luxuries, and is already filling his store cupboard with a few extra items each time he does a food shop, to prepare for winter.

“It feels like going back to how it was in the war,” said Mark. “I’m feeling anxious about this all the time,” he added, “I’m having trouble sleeping, because I know it’s coming. I’m really really anxious because I don’t know how bad it’s going to get or how much help they’re going to give us.”

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Mark is having sleepless nights over the price of fuel, which he knows is only going to get higher

Mark said he is especially worried as he has not yet received his £150 Council Tax Rebate, which he was banking on to ease the financial strain of the last two months. He said thousands of other residents who pay full council tax have already received their rebates via direct debit from Lambeth Council, while those on full support are still waiting.

In February, the UK government announced it would be issuing a £150 one-off payment to liable council tax payers in council tax bands A to D, designed to provide “immediate relief” in the face of rising energy bills. The payments would also be made to occupants of these properties who are exempt from paying council tax, like Mark.

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Mark says his council’s sluggishness to pay the rebate to those on full council tax support means those who need the money most are getting it last

Councils were advised by the government to pay out the rebates “as soon as possible from April,” although they have until September 30 to pay them. Mark said he has now been informed he will receive a letter at some point in June with a bar code he can take to his post office to receive his £150 in cash, but he is angry he hasn’t received the money more promptly, and via direct debit like other Lambeth residents.

“I just don’t think they’ve acknowledged that it’s affecting the worst hit people,” said Mark, who claims he heard nothing about his rebate from Lambeth council until last Friday (June 10), despite repeatedly trying to contact them to ask about it. He added:“I just don’t know whether I’m going to get it in time to pay my bills, whether I’m going to go into arrears or not.I just don’t trust [the council] any more, I can’t rely on them.”

MyLondon has reached out to Lambeth Council for a comment.

Are you living in London and struggling with the cost of living crisis like Mark? Get in touch with me via email at [email protected]

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