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Council Tax Support

​​​​council tax stampFinding it difficult to pay your council tax bill?

​Someone on a low income can get their council tax bill reduced through the Council Tax Support scheme if they meet all the claiming conditions. 

Council Tax Support helps people on low incomes and / or certain welfare benefits to pay their council tax bill. If you think you may be entitled you’ll need to apply to your local council for a reduction.

Council Tax Support replaced Council Tax Benefit in April 2013. One of the main differences between this and the old system is that it’s now up to individual councils to decide who gets a reduction in their council tax bill.  Each council sets its own rules, and has the power to change these rules from each April,

The amount by which your Council Tax Bill is reduced depends on your income and circumstances.  For working age people, regardless of how low their income is, most will have to pay something towards their bill. Local councils vary. The minimum payment varies between local councils – between 0% and 33.1% of the council tax bill. 

WBC will write to you explaining what reduction you’ll get and how it has been worked out. They will then send you a new council tax bill for the reduced amount. Your monthly instalments will be lower, as the reduction is spread throughout the rest of the year.

It is worth checking if your council tax bill should be reduced under a different scheme too – the Council Tax Discount Scheme. This can reduce your Council Tax bill in certain cases if you live in a property which has been adapted for the disablement needs of someone in the household, or if there is only one adult (1​8 or over) in the property (or the other adult is ‘severely mentally impaired’ or a student or a youth trainee or apprentice).   Ask WBC if you think this might apply to you - find out more on the WBC website.

IMPORTANT! If you claim Universal Credit you have to claim Council Tax Support separately, from the local council. This is different from claiming when you claim Housing Benefit, where it is all on one form.

Some English councils made​ changes to their Council Tax Support rules from April 2016 due to budget cuts.

  
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Contact WBC and ask for a Council Tax Support claim form.

Claims for Council Tax Support are normally made by filling in a form provided by your council. Some councils will let you apply online or by phone, but you'll probably still need to put something in writing.

If you would struggle to fill in the form ask a family member, friend or the local council to help you. You may be asked to provide evidence of your income and savings, and if you have an adult living in your home other than your partner, their income too.

Return the form as soon as possible to avoid missing out on support that you may be entitled to. If you think that you may have been entitled for a while but you are just making a claim now explain that you would like any award to cover a period in the past. Whether you do get your claim backdated or not will depend on the rules set by your local council.

It's best to apply for a reduction even if you're not sure you'll qualify. Your council will let you know either way.

  
Some people will be entitled to a 100% reduction, others to a smaller reduction. The amount your council tax bill could be reduced by will depend on:
  • your local council’s own rules
  • how much income and savings you have
  • whether or not other people live with you, and how much income they have
  • whether any children you have live with you.

  
All councils should have a hardship fund to help people who are having difficulties paying their council tax bill, although these are usually only paid to people in the most difficult circumstances. Explain your situation fully to your local council, or ask at a local advice agency such as Citizens Advice.

Also check to see if there any council tax discounts that you may be missing out on – this is a different scheme to Council Tax Support and you can be eligible for help under both.

  
A council tax bill assumes that two adults live in a property. If fewer than two adults live in a property then a discount will be applied to the council tax bill.

Some people, even though they live in the property, are ‘ignored’ by the local council when it decides how many adults live there.
There are various discounts that can be applied to someone’s council tax bill regardless of their income or savings. The following people may be able to apply for a discount and should contact their local council:
  • Single person and people classed as living alone – see below.
  • A person who is living in a property that has been adapted or has special facilities because someone who lives there has a physical disability.
  • Someone who is classed as ‘severely mentally impaired’.
  • Students.
In certain circumstances a person may not be counted as living at a property for the purposes of awarding a discount. These people are known as being ‘ignored’ and if only one person is left in your property after everyone else is ‘ignored’ you may be entitled to a 25% discount on your council tax bill.

People who may be ‘ignored’ for council tax purposes are:
  • people under age 18
  • full time students
  • student nurses
  • apprentices
  • anyone who is 18 or 19 and still at school or is in full time further education 
  • anyone with a severe mental impairment 
  • carers – special rules apply 
  • anyone who is in a residential care home or nursing home 
  • anyone in a hostel which provides care or treatment because of old age, physical or mental disability, alcohol/ drug dependence or mental illness
  • anyone in prison or in a bail or probation hostel
  • foreign language assistants. 
If you think a discount should be applied to your council tax bill because someone living in your property should be ‘ignored’ contact WBC. You will have to provide proof of their status such as a student certificate, a doctor’s certificate or a letter from their prison.

  
Although you may not qualify for Council Tax Support, you may be entitled to a reduction in your council tax bill through the Council Tax Discount scheme which does not consider your income or savings.

There are two discounts that apply to people with a disability.

1. Where your property is larger due to the needs of a disabled person (including children)

You could pay less council tax if you have a permanent and substantial disability, or if anyone else you live with does.

This is not part of the Council Tax Support scheme, but is done instead by changing the council tax valuation band on your home to a lower one. So if your property is normally band B it will be treated as band A when your council tax bill is worked out. Even if your home is already in the lowest band (band A) your bill will still be reduced.

To be eligible, you’ll need to show that a disabled person is living in the property – whether that’s you or someone else. And the property must have: 
  • A room that is used mainly by the disabled person and is required to meet their particular needs. For example, the treatment of an illness or condition. 
  • An additional bathroom or kitchen needed to meet the needs of the disabled person.
  • Adaption for wheelchair access or use.
You can apply to the council for this type of reduction. Some have special forms for this purpose. You might need to give them a copy of a doctor’s note, or some other supporting evidence.

2. If there is someone living in your property who is ‘severely mentally impaired’

If the only person living in a property is ‘severely mentally impaired’ then their council tax bill is reduced to nil ie they get a 100% discount.

If there are two adults living in the property and one of these is ‘severely mentally impaired’ and the other is their carer, then the council tax bill is cut in half ie they get a 50% discount.

If there are two adults living in the property and one of these is ‘severely mentally impaired’ and the other is not their carer, then the council tax bill is cut by a quarter ie they get a 25% discount.
Someone is deemed severely mentally impaired if the following apply:
  • They have been certified by a medical practitioner as having an impairment of intelligence and social functioning which is expected to be permanent (a GP should be able to provide the certificate).
And they are receiving one of the following benefits:
  • Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
  • A daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • The high or mid rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Employment Support Allowance 
  • Universal Credit that includes an element due to incapacity for work
  • Working Tax Credit that include a Disability Element.
You will need to supply proof of any qualifying benefit.

  
Did you know that our you can set up an online account with WBC to view your Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit?  You will be able to see:
your claim details – the people in your household and the income and capital we are currently using to assess your claim
your notification letters
details of payments you have received
details of any overpayments you may have had
your next benefit payment and any deductions that are going to be made
if you have reported a change, whether we have dealt with it