Central government should pay householders' council tax bills for the next three months, according to the Liberal Democrats.

The party says the move would give a break to people who have either lost their jobs, been put on furlough or taken pay cuts while on lockdown. And it would mean the essential work of authorities like Swindon Borough Council could continue.

The Lib Dems reckon it would save Swindon residents an average of £416 over the next three months.

Former party leader and spokesman on local government affairs Tim Farron said: “Millions of people are facing financial hardship as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis.

"More must be done to ease the pressure on families facing financial hardship. Scrapping council tax bills before they kick in again in April is one such step.”

The move has been backed by Stan Pajak, who leads the party’s group on Swindon Borough Council.

He said: “As the coronavirus crisis escalates, thousands will be unable to pay, and may fall into arrears if steps are not taken to suspend payments.

“Rapid action is needed, or many more families will be under unbearable financial pressuring in the coming weeks.

“Councils have been hit hard by government funding cuts over the last five years.

“Every penny is now vital to ensure Swindon council can continue to operate. Under these proposals, councils would receive equivalent funding from central government, to make sure they can continue to provide the services that people in Swindon rely on.

“This move would not only help residents but ensure the financial viability of the vital, critical services paid for by the council tax – police, fire and local government. We are in this together and must put people first.”