In the UK, governance at the local level takes place through the council. The council decides on the amenities that will be provided and the maintenance of facilities within the borough. This involves provisions such as collecting waste and rubbish, looking after the highways, and the upkeeping of local parks. All of these services, of course, cost money which has to be funded by the people residing in the borough. Payments for these services are collected from the local residents through what is known as the council tax. Thankfully, like most bill payments in the UK, concessions are available for certain groups. In this article, we will discuss who can obtain a council tax reduction and how to go about it.
Who Has To Pay Council Tax?
Anyone over 18 and in charge of the household must pay council tax. The council tax bill varies from one borough to another and takes into account factors such as the number of people living in the home and the size of the dwelling. As it is an expensive bill that can run into thousands of pounds, it makes sense for anyone entitled to discounts to take advantage.
Who Is “Disregarded”?
One factor in the calculated council tax bill is the number of people living in the home. However, anyone in the following categories is not considered:
- Live in carers
- 18/19 years of age and in full-time education
- Under 18
- Full-time University/college student
- Student nurses
- Physical disability
- Mentally impaired
- Aged under 25 and receiving financial assistance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency
Who Is Eligible For Council Tax Reduction?
You can receive a council tax discount depending on your situation and circumstances. You will automatically receive a 50% discount if everyone in the household is in the “disregarded” category from above. A 25% concession is given if you live alone or if everyone else in the home is “disregarded”.
For those in the household on an apprenticeship scheme, proof of eligibility is required to obtain a council tax discount. A letter from the employer is required to state the person earns less than £195 a week. The employer will also need to declare the training will lead to a qualification recognised by the Scottish Vocational Education Council or the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation.
In a household consisting of only full-time students, there is no need to pay council tax. To be eligible, the course must involve at least 21 hours of study a week and last a minimum of 1 year. For those under 20 studying up to A Level, the course must last at least 3 months and require at least 12 hours of study per week.
If you or another person in the home is disabled, you can apply for a council tax discount. There is a need to prove you live in a larger home due to the disability nature of someone in the house. Examples of proof include the requirement for extra space inside the home for a wheelchair or the use of an additional room (such as an extension or bathroom) to accommodate the disabled person and their condition.
If you are given a council tax concession, it will mean paying the council tax at the next lower band. Council tax payments are classified into bands A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H. Band H is for the biggest homes with the highest council tax bills, while A is for smaller apartments and has the lowest rate. If you are deemed eligible and are, for example, in band F, you will need to pay the council tax at band E. Those in band A will receive a 17% discount on their bills.
Mentally Impaired People
If you are someone in the home who is mentally impaired, you could be eligible for a council tax bill discount. There is a need to obtain letters from a medical professional to state the condition and to be in receipt of certain benefits.
A 100% exemption is given if the mentally impaired person lives alone or if there are other severely mentally impaired people in the home. A 50% council tax bill is possible if the other people in the house are “disregarded.” A 25% reduction can be expected if you live with a person with severe mental impairment, and if there are no other adults in the house other than yourself, or if everyone else is “disregarded.”
Empty Properties and Second Homes
All homes will need to pay a council tax bill. But the local council could give discounts, entirely at their discretion, for people with second homes or if the property is empty. If the house has been empty for over 2 years, the council may charge a premium. An empty property for more than 10 years can attract council tax bills 4 times the regular charge.
How To Apply for a Council Tax Reduction
Visit this UK government website to locate your local council. You will be asked to enter the postcode to be directed to the local council website. Application is possible online or by contacting the council by telephone.
Evidence will be required to support the claim. For example, people may need to provide proof of full-time education or various benefits. The processing time will vary from one council to another, but you can expect the claim to be completed at the most within a couple of weeks after submitting the evidence.
Cutting Down on Your Expenses
Council tax is essential as it enables the local authority to provide and maintain services in the area. But it is expensive and is one of the biggest bills for most households. If you think you may be eligible for a council tax concession, check with the local council to ensure there are no unnecessary overpayments.