MORE than £3 million has been set aside to help people in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole struggling to pay council tax.

BCP Council has now been allocated its share of the £500 million government “hardship fund” for reducing bills for working age people.

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick said the £3.1 million would provide “necessary financial support” for people and families.

The fund was first announced earlier this month by chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his budget.

Details of its allocations have now been published alongside the criteria that the money can be used to reduce this year’s council tax bills for working age people receiving council tax support.

It can also be used to “provide further discretionary support” to vulnerable people through welfare schemes.

“Providing the necessary financial support to people and families is critical at this difficult time when many people will be concerned about changes to their income,” Mr Jenrick said.

“That’s why we’re giving local councils an additional £500 million, to ensure help is available for the most vulnerable people in our society who are struggling to pay their council tax bills.”

Just over £3.1 million has been allocated to BCP Council. Dorset Council is to receive £2.6 million.

Councillor David Brown, its cabinet member for finance, said: “Following the announcement from government, BCP Council is looking at the best way to administer this hardship fund to assist working age council tax payers suffering financially as a result of Covid-19.”

He said details of precisely how the council would use the money would be announced shortly.

But the government guidance says reductions should be applied “as soon as possible” following the start of the new financial year next week.

The money comes on top of £1.6 billion in funding from the government for councils to respond to pressures associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes a boost to budgets for social care and to support homeless people during the outbreak.