I'm a debt expert – the full list of households who can get council tax discounts | The Sun

THOUSANDS of households fall behind on their council tax payments each month but there is help on offer

Debt charity StepChange says a third of its new clients each month come to them in council tax arrears.

In November 2022, that accounted for over 4,700 people.

If you don't pay the debt back, you can land yourself in court or with bailiffs at your door.

However, there are some groups of people who can get discounts and in some cases, if you're really struggling, you could get your bill completely wiped.

We spoke to StepChange's debt expert Jonathan Chesterman to share the information.

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Single people

You can get a 25% discount on your council tax if you live on your own.

You can be classed as a single-person home even with more than one person in your home too.

That's because some people don't class as technically living in a household when it comes to council tax.

For example, if there is one adult and one student living together in a household, the student isn't counted.

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If there is one adult and one person classed as severely mentally impaired in the home, the severely mentally impaired person doesn't count.

Meanwhile, someone aged under 18 doesn't count.

That means if you are a single parent living with two children aged 17, you could be eligible for a 25% discount.

That's not all. If everyone in a household doesn't count towards living there, you can get a 50% discount.

Households where everyone is a student or everyone is severely mentally impaired can get a 100% discount as well.

The rules can get complicated, but Jonathan said it's worth applying if you think you might be eligible.

He said: "If in doubt, apply. Certainly if you are on a low income. It's not going to cost you anything."

Pensioners

Certain retirees are eligible for a council tax reduction.

If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit you could even be in line for a 100% discount.

And you can get help if you have a low income and less than £16,000 in savings too.

Pensioners who live alone but aren't eligible for the 100% discount can still get the 25% reduction.

Jonathan said it is worth noting the 100% reduction still applies to pensioners who started receiving a discount before 2013, when the way council tax reductions are given was changed.

He said: "If a person was entitled to a 100% reduction under the council tax benefit scheme before 2013, they will be entitled to a council tax reduction now."

If you or someone you live with is disabled

If someone you live with is classed as disabled, your council will normally charge you the rate for the next lowest council tax band instead.

So if your property is band D, you'll pay the band C council tax rate.

This is because you might need a larger home to accommodate the disabled person.

To get the discount you must be able to show that a disabled person lives in the property.

The property must also have either:

  • an extra kitchen or bathroom to meet the needs of a disabled person
  • any other room (except a toilet) which is mainly used by a disabled person to meet their needs
  • enough indoor space for a disabled person to use their wheelchair

Jonathan said in some cases you might be in line for additional reductions too, but this is means-tested.

Plus, you can get discretionary relief too, which is when council's offer help to people suffering from hardship due to exceptional circumstances.

But, in this instance, he warned: "You would need evidence of some sort of financial hardship caused by the disability."

Low-income households

You can get a reduction if you are on a low income or receiving benefits.

The specific requirements depend on where you live though – you should get in touch with your council to find out more.

Residents on a low income in East Riding, Yorkshire, can get a discount of up to 75% on their council tax bill.

Meanwhile, low income residents in North Devon can get up to 80% off their council tax.

Jonathan said: "For low income households, each local authority will set it's own criteria on the reduction.

"It's best to approach your local authority to see what's available.

"Also, local advice agencies like Citizens Advice are a good starting point as well.

"They operate in the locality so will understand the local authority's conditions and criteria."

Your property is empty

Some councils let you apply for a council tax reduction if your property becomes empty and unfurnished.

But the amount you are entitled to depends on your council area.

For example, Newham Council lets people in this situation apply for a 100% discount for one month from the date their property became empty and unfurnished.

After the month period, they have to start paying full council tax again.

Jonathan said councils can offer tax exemptions on properties undergoing repairs or refurbishments, or properties that are vacant due to flooding as well. But, this isn't guaranteed.

Since 2013 it's up to each specific council if they want to offer a discount.

Jonathan said: "It may be unfurnished and vacant but your local council may not be able to offer you a reduction."

If you are housing an Ukrainian

The Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched in March 2022, and allows households to take in Ukrainian nationals fleeing the country.

Under the scheme, you can get a council tax discount depending on your circumstances.

If a Ukrainian is living in your home, they will not affect any of your existing council tax reductions or discounts.

And if you have more that one property you could be eligible for a further council tax discount.

Jonathan said: "If the Ukrainian lives in a second property you own you will be entitled to a 50% council tax discount on it."

How to apply for a reduction

You can apply for a reduction through the government's website.

You'll need your national insurance number, bank statements, a recent payslip or letter from the Jobcentre, and a passport or driving licence when filling out the details.

You can get your house re-banded too if you think you're overpaying on council tax.

To get your house re-banded, you'll need to check which band your neighbours are in and work out how much your property was worth in 1991, as this is when council tax bands were decided.

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Websites such as MoneySavingExpert.com have useful tools you can use.

Be warned though – your application isn't guaranteed to be successful, and you could even end up being moved to a higher council tax band and paying more.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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