FAMILIES hit by serious flooding on Canvey have been set a deadline to apply for a council tax cut to help them through the crisis.

As many as 500 homes were affected by the floods in July and for many, it was the second time in a year their homes were devastated.

On Wednesday, Castle Point councillors will meet to decide on the detail of a council tax reduction scheme to help families affected.

They are also likely to set October 30 as a deadline for applications.

The scheme will a give a discount of up to three months relief from council tax on homes across the borough, particularly on Canvey.

Residents will be asked to confirm in writing that they meet the criteria for a discount and may be asked to supply photos, a survey report letters from insurers and estimates for work required to support their application.

The discount is available to properties that have either remained occupied, been left empty as a result of flooding or were empty prior to being flooded.

The criteria to be applied for help are: ! Flood water has entered the internal living area of the property (for example kitchen, bathroom, lounge, bedroom, hallway) and ! The extent of flooding affects a substantial part of the floor surface area within the affected room or rooms or ! Access to the property has been severely restricted (more than three days) as a result of flooding or loss of amenities such as sewerage, drainage and electricity being severely affected.

However, Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Island Independent Party, said: “What if people were not insured or stayed with relatives.

How can they prove that?

“What about people who are being forced to live upstairs in their homes as they don’t want to leave.

“These criteria make it very difficult for them to get any relief.”

The council is seeking help from the Government to meet the cost of the scheme and has asked the other preceptors – Essex County Council, the fire authority and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex to share the cost.

So far County Hall and the fire authority have agreed to help.

Colin Riley, Tory council leader, said “For some residents, this is the second time in less than a year their homes have been devastated by flood water.

“The council wants to do what it can to help residents to recover from this. Hopefully, this discount will help the recovery.

“We are very grateful for the support from the other authorities.”