Councillor Pete Marland, the Leader of Milton Keynes Council, has said residents struggling to pay council tax and council rent will receive help, but only in genuine cases.
It is the Council's role to protect the vulnerable groups and provide health and social care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many residents have been questioning why they still have to pay council tax. Cllr Marland says payment ensures the council can deliver its services but has highlighted that if anyone is struggling to pay, the council will step in.
Speaking to MKFM, Cllr Marland said: "It's one of our roles, that people get into crisis, particularly financial crisis, we are here to help. If anybody is struggling paying their council tax, we will help. If anyone is struggling, as our tenant, to pay their rent, we will help.
"We are in an unprecedented situation, and an unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented intervention. I'm not going to stand here and say to people 'don't pay your council tax', but if you don't pay your council tax we will not be able to deliver services. We are more reliant on business rates than council tax to deliver services. What I'm saying is if people get into genuine financial difficulty on things like council tax, we will make sure that the system helps you in Milton Keynes.
"We're not going to take people to court for the non-payment of council tax because they've lost their job over this. We're certainly not going to evict people who are unable to pay their bills because of this, but they need to get in touch with us."
MK Council, working with the Government, is ensuring that people can access financial help quickly if they need it. You can find out more information about this, and details on how to contact the council regarding council tax and council rent, by clicking here.
Cllr Marland has highlighted the fact the council's role is to support those in need. As a result, MK Council and the MK Community Foundation have started the COVID-19 MK Emergency Response Appeal to raise funds for these vulnerable groups. MK Council has donated £50,000.
"It is now clear that the government rules mean you should only help people you know well and limit all social contact," said Cllr Marland. "Members of the public moving between households of people they do not know or establishing new arrangements that would facilitate increased contact with people, especially vulnerable people, is not appropriate. We will be working with partners and organisations to enable existing networks such as faith groups and charities to help people who need it."
MK council is also working alongside MK Food Bank.
If you have a concern about the welfare of someone please contact Milton Keynes Council on 01908 691691.
MK Council will also work to continue to provide its normal services, where possible, during this time. "Milton Keynes Council has taken steps to ensure our vital services are maintained as best we can," said Cllr Marland. "Our main focus is on critical and essential service delivery such as social care, safeguarding vulnerable adults and children, and maintaining waste collections.
"Following guidelines, and ensuring the wellbeing of our colleagues and service users, does mean we have had to stop or reduce the way we are delivering services."
To find out about the current service provision, please click here.
In discussion with MKFM, Cllr Marland stated that council meetings have been "cancelled at the minute". "Most decisions are made by cabinet rather than the council which falls to me anyway," he said. Cllr Marland is also virtually meeting with the leader of the Liberal Democrats group and the leader of the Conservative group every Thursday to discuss crucial issues.
Cllr Marland also highlighted the importance of staying safe. "Please do not do anything that could put you, or others, at risk," he added.
"For instance do not share your bank details and it is not advisable to display, or ask people to display, posters or notices asking for help. Please do not pass on the details of vulnerable people to anyone other than trusted organisations. If you need help, or are concerned about someone’s well-being, please contact 01908 253772. If the concern is about a child, then call our Safeguarding Hub on 01908 253169/70. 01908 253772. If the concern is about a child, then call our Safeguarding Hub on 01908 253169/70.
"If you want to report an issue such as fraud please contact 0808 2231133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."
He further highlighted the importance of staying home, adding "Protect yourself and others, protect the NHS and save lives".