EDDC offers timely financial advice

WITH four Woolworths stores, including Sidmouth s, closing across East Devon and other businesses laying off staff, 2009 is unlikely to be a happy new year for some.

WITH four Woolworths stores, including Sidmouth's, closing across East Devon and other businesses laying off staff, 2009 is unlikely to be a happy new year for some.

East Devon District Council offers timely advice for those in danger of getting into arrears with council tax or rent payments.

It warns people not to wait longer than necessary before contacting the council if help is needed and warns: "Every month you leave it is another month that will be added to the arrears total, which cannot be changed once it has built up."

The council offices re-open today (Friday) at 8.30am after the Christmas break, and, says Councillor Andrew Moulding, EDDC's portfolio holder resources: "If people contact us as soon as they realise they are getting into difficulty, we can start to look at the situation straight away.

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"That way, we may be able to give advice before the debt has built up into a really significant and worrying amount."

He said housing and council tax staff was trained to give advice to people on low incomes or benefit about any concessions available to those paying council house rent, council tax or business rates.

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"We would be more than willing to talk to people about any payment problems they may be having in terms of their council tax or rent.

"We want to get involved at an early stage rather than having to sort out the difficult tangles that can happen if people put off the problem, hoping it will go away.

"If we can lighten the burden for people, it may make it easier for them to deal with their other bills."

EDDC has one of the highest collection rates for council tax in the country and actively works with customers to find different ways to help and ensure they get the help they are entitled to.

Since October 27 all child maintenance payments have been discounted when allocating housing and council tax benefits.

If you're not sure whether you might be entitled to housing or council tax benefit, contact EDDC on (01395) 517446.

If you are concerned about paying council tax or rent call (01395) 517444.

If the rateable value of your business premises is below £15,000 you could get small business rate relief, subject to certain criteria. Help is available from EDDC. Call between 8.30am and 5pm or check its website: www.eastdevon.gov.uk.

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