Council Tax Support

If you’re in a low-paid job and don’t have many savings, you could qualify for help with council tax.

A young person is outside looking down at his phone

Changes to Council Tax Benefit

Council Tax Benefit has been replaced by Council Tax Support. Council Tax Support (also known as Council Tax Reduction) is the responsibility of local authorities.

If you already receive Universal Credit, you might have to apply for Council Tax Reduction separately, but in some councils any new claim will be considered as a claim for council tax support, as well.

If you find your local council here and search their site for Council Tax Support or Council Tax Reduction, it should explain what the rules are where you are.

What is Council Tax Support?

Council Tax Support is money off your council tax, awarded by whichever local authority you live within the boundaries of. If you qualify, the council sends you a reduced council tax bill or gives you a refund if you’ve already paid full council tax.

The amount of money you get off your bill depends on your income, savings, whether you’re of working age, and who you live with. Your local council sets all these limits.

Who can get Council Tax Support?

Council Tax Support is for people who are:

  • On a low income (the limit is set by your local council)
  • With few savings – in most cases, under £16,000 (again, set by your council)
  • Living in a property they have to pay council tax for

If you’re on income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support, you should automatically qualify for the maximum amount for your circumstances. In many places, Universal Credit has replaced other benefits, so again it’s important to know the rules where you are.

Getting the maximum amount of Council Tax Support does not necessarily mean that you’ll get the full amount off the bill. If you live in England, you still have to pay something towards your bill even if you get the maximum amount of Council Tax Support.

The maximum amount is set by each local council in England. If you live in Scotland or Wales, the maximum amount means the full amount off your bill.

How to claim

To claim, click here to contact your local council.

Appealing the council’s decision

If you disagree with the decision and want to challenge it, you can write and ask for the reasons for the decision (you must do this within one month of the date on the decision letter). You don’t have to take this step, but it may help if it is unclear why a decision was made.

Whether or not you’ve asked for a written explanation, the next step if you’re not happy is to ask them to look at the decision again. This must be done in writing and some councils will have their own form for this.

Head here to find your local council’s website for information on their appeal procedure. If you still disagree, you can also click here to launch an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal, which is independent of the council.

Find out more about benefits appeals in our benefits appeals article.

I’m studying, what help can I get with Council Tax?

You don’t have to pay any Council Tax if every adult in your home, including you, is a full-time student. Yay.

If you share with one other person who is not a full-time student, there will be 25% taken off the bill and you and your flatmate are liable to pay the other 75%. …Hey…

If you share with two or more people who are not full-time students, you and your flatmates will be responsible for paying the full bill. Nay!

It is worth remembering that the people you live with who are not full-time students can apply for Council Tax Support, in the above cases. Also, if you live with a partner who is not a full-time student, the partner can apply for Council Tax Support.

The Citizens Advice website and the Gov.uk website has further information on this subject.

If you’re a part-time student, unfortunately you are liable for council tax. However, you can apply for Council Tax Support.

Does my student loan affect my Council Tax Support?

If you get student finance, such as a grant or a loan, this could reduce the Council Tax Support you get. Your finance officer at your university should be able to advise you further.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer specific benefits advice at The Mix, but we can give emotional support and guide you to the best places for expert advice if you give us a call on 0808 808 4994.

If your circumstances change

Remember to tell your benefits advisor if your circumstances change – for example, if you get a pay rise, new job or get married. If you don’t you could face a £50 fine, as well as having to pay back any extra benefit. See GOV.UK for more information.

More help

Applying for benefits is often a frustrating process, but there are lots of places you can go for help:

  • Citizen’s Advice know all about the benefits system and can help you understand your rights. You can visit your local bureau to get face-to-face advice and support. You must remember to bring along details of your benefits and general financial situation.
  • This benefits calculator from Turn2us shows you how much money you should be getting based on your circumstances.
  • If you want to challenge a decision regarding your benefit payments, you can appeal here.

Next Steps

  • Use the Turn2Us calculator to work out what benefits and grants you're entitled to, or call their helpline on 0808 802 2000
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

Tags:

benefits| tax

By Holly Turner

Updated on 06-Jun-2021