Single person council tax reduction re-instated for those housing refugees

A ‘sanctuary’ discount of 25 per cent on council tax to residents living alone and housing a refugee has been introduced by Lewisham council.

Currently, residents who live alone and accommodate refugees who would normally be eligible for the 25 per cent single person discount must pay full council tax, because they are then classified as a two-person household.

The discount, which was announced in a council meeting last Wednesday, is to ensure eligible residents will not be financially affected from housing a refugee. It will be introduced on April 1.

Councillor Amanda De Ryk, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “We are also introducing a new sanctuary discount, which applies to residents who currently receive a single-person discount, who accommodate a refugee in their home.”

“This is to ensure that residents are not financially worse-off as a result of offering a home to a refugee who needs it.”

Councillor Kevin Bonavia, Cabinet Member for Democracy, Refugees and Accountability, said: “I want to commend the proposal to ensure that people do not lose the single person discount for taking in refugees and that is in response to a request from our residents, who do come forward and help refugees. I’m very pleased that it’s in our report.”

 “That’s the kind of borough we are. We respond to our communities. Our community wants to help refugees and I’m really grateful that we can do that in the best way we can, through the powers we have under council tax.” To benefit from the discount, residents must house a refugee through a registered refugee charity such as Refugees At Home, which connects refugees and asylum seekers to residents with a spare room.

A spokesperson from the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network told ELL: “We are encouraged by Lewisham Council’s decision to offer a 25 per cent discount on council tax to those living alone and housing a refugee. It is another step to creating a community that is welcoming towards those who are seeking sanctuary.”

“Practical moves like this signal that Lewisham Council takes its role as a Council of Sanctuary seriously and, working with us and the wider Borough of Sanctuary network, we will continue building a borough defined by understanding, empathy and diversity.”

Single person council tax reduction re-instated for those housing refugees