A DISC JOCKEY says Blackburn with Darwen Council's tax support scheme has failed self employed people like him during the pandemic.

Nigel Ely, who lives in Blackburn and has been working as a DJ for many years, says that he was refused help by the borough when applying for its council tax support scheme, first in 2020 and again this year.

This is despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic left him unable to work due to the closure of clubs during lockdown.

Mr Ely said: "I applied for council tax help in 2020 and was flatly refused unless I was on Universal Credit,

He added: "I applied again this year and was eventually refused as I did not meet the self employed minimum income floor.

"This is a figure worked out by Universal Credit as what is expected to be a minimum income, a joke in itself."

The figure is calculated as the equivalent of what someone would be earning in a week if they were employed full time on minimum wage, currently standing at £8.91.

As such the minimum weekly income to qualify for the support scheme would be just over £311, much lower than the average person would expect to be able to live on securely.

Mr Ely said: "After March 23 2020, no one had any hours so Universal Credit suspended this requirement.

"However, the council in their wisdom have decided that even though the ogre that is universal credit had suspended it, they would not, meaning that many people would not have been able to claim any help!"

Mr Ely says that although he received just under £2,000 from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme he still had to pay £970 of that in council tax, leaving him facing severe difficulties, at one point having to wear ski wear over the winter in order to avoid running up his gas bill.

He says that, due to his experience, he now wants to "point out the injustice of a council that doesn't help it's tax payers and only seems to help itself."

In response, the council has said that, though it has done its best to help residents, the government's policy has meant that some have still fallen through the cracks.

Executive member for finance Councillor Vicky McGurk said: “Unfortunately, due to the criteria for our council tax support scheme, Mr Ely does not currently qualify for any relief in this area.

"The rules were amended several years ago to assess the self-employed as receiving income equivalent 35 hours times minimum wage, irrespective of their declaration.

"When this rule was applied to Mr Ely’s claim, he did not qualify.

“It is correct that the DWP suspended this requirement during the pandemic for all Universal Credit claims.

"However, we are not able to do this as it was not possible to amend our council tax support scheme mid-year.

"Throughout the pandemic we have tried our best to help as many people as possible who are struggling in the borough but due to the rules and criteria mainly set by the Government, some people unfortunately were not eligible.”