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  4. How to Reduce your Council Tax Bill: Council Tax Discounts

How to Reduce your Council Tax Bill: Council Tax Discounts

Fiona Leake
Fiona Leake
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 24th February 2021

Council tax discounts are available for people in certain circumstances such as a single person council tax discount or a student council tax discount. Find out how to claim your council tax discount and save some money on your monthly bills!

Who has to pay council tax?

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If you’re over 18-years-old and own or rent your home, you’ll usually be liable to pay council tax. 

There are some exceptions to this rule and discounts are available for certain circumstances. Read on to find out whether you’re eligible for a council tax reduction.

Can I get my council tax reduced?

Many people can get their council tax reduced due to discounts available for particular circumstances. Several situations qualify for a council tax reduction, which we’ll cover in more detail below. 

However, if you don’t qualify for a council tax discount, you still might be able to get a reduction if you have your council tax band reassessed. For everything you need to know about council tax rebanding, check out our guide. 

Who is exempt from paying council tax?

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You’re exempt from paying council tax if everyone living in the property is:

  • A full-time student.
  • Under 18-years-old.
  • Member of the armed forces living in armed forces accommodation.
  • Moved into a care home or hospital.
  • Living with someone else to receive care.
  • Have a severe mental impairment. 
  • Diplomats who aren’t a resident of the UK.
  • Prisoners.

Empty properties exempt from council tax

Some properties are exempt from council tax due to being empty for the following reasons:

  • Empty due to the occupier being in prison.
  • Empty due to the person living in a hospital or a care home.
  • The council tax payer has passed away - exemption continues for up to 6 months.
  • The empty property can’t be occupied by law.
  • Empty due to the occupier moving out to provide care for someone else. 
  • Property left empty by someone bankrupt. 
  • Property that has been repossessed by a mortgage lender. 

For more information on empty properties exempt from council tax, visit the GOV.uk website.

Can I claim a council tax discount? 

Many people can claim council tax discounts for different reasons. Let’s take a look at the different circumstances that’ll grant you a council tax reduction:

Single person council tax discount 

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Council tax is allocated to each property assuming that at least two people are living there. However, if you’re the only resident, then you can apply for a 25% single person council tax discount. 

You may also receive a 25% discount if the other people who live in your home are ‘disregarded’. ‘Disregarded’ residents include: 

  • Apprentices - must be an apprenticeship for a recognised qualification.
  • People under 25-years-old in approved training. 
  • 18 - 19-year-olds in education.
  • Full-time university students.
  • Student nurses.
  • Guests in hostels.
  • Monks and nuns.
  • Resident hospital patients.
  • Severely mentally impaired residents.

If you believe you qualify for a discount or are unsure whether you live with a ‘disregarded’ person, please contact your local council. 

Low-income council tax discount

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If you’re on a low-income, you may qualify for a council tax discount of up to 100% which will be paid back to you in the form of a rebate. 

Each council has different criteria for what counts as low-income. How much of a rebate you receive depends on your personal circumstances. If you think you might qualify for a low-income council tax discount, you should get in touch with your local authority.

Hardship relief

If you don’t qualify for a low-income rebate, you might qualify for hardship relief if your circumstances have changed beyond your control, for example, losing your job.

In these cases, you might receive hardship relief which temporarily reduces your council tax bill:

  • Your income is less than your outgoings.
  • You have no savings.
  • You have applied for other financial help such as benefits.
  • You don’t have assets to help pay your bill.

If you think you might qualify for hardship relief, you can ask your local council.

Council tax discount for pensioners

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Pensioners who have reached the state pension age are entitled to extra support. If you receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit then you might be exempt from paying council tax.

If you receive the savings part of pension credit or have a low-income and minimal savings, then you could be entitled to a council tax discount.

Disabled council tax discount - band reduction scheme

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If someone in your household has a disability, you could be entitled to a council tax band reduction. For example, if your property is in band C, you’ll only have to pay council tax as if you were a band B. 

To qualify for this band reduction, you’ll have to prove that a disabled person lives in your property and that your property has one of the following:

  • An extra kitchen or bathroom for the disabled.
  • Another room entirely dedicated for the needs of the disabled resident.
  • Enough indoor space for wheelchair access.

Second-home council tax discount

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If you own a second home or holiday home, then you might qualify for a council tax discount. The majority of holiday home-owners will get a discount of around 10%, it depends on your local council. 

In some cases, your second home must receive a 50% discount, regardless of your council. The second home must either:

  • Be owned by someone who lives somewhere else in England, Scotland or Wales due to their job or their partner’s job. This means that they are unable to live in the second home.
  • A caravan pitch or a mooring occupied by a boat.

Annexe council tax discount

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If you have an annexe built on your property, you’ll usually have to pay a separate council tax bill for it. However, you can receive a 50% discount on this council tax bill if the annexe is occupied by relatives of the person paying council tax on the main property. 

Annexes are exempt from council tax if it’s occupied by a dependent of whoever owns the property. A dependant is classed as:

  • Someone aged 65 or over.
  • Someone who’s substantially or permanently disabled.
  • Someone who’s severely mentally impaired.

Student council tax discount

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Properties where all occupiers are full-time students are eligible for council tax exemption. 

To qualify for the full-time student exemption, your course must last at least one year and it must involve at least 21 hours of study each week.

If not all residents of a property are students, you still might qualify for a discount. You can contact your local council and ask. 

How do I apply for a council tax discount?

Your local council might not be aware of your circumstances and so you’ll have to notify them if you believe you’re eligible for a council tax discount or exemption. 

You can either call your local authority or contact them via their website using the government portal.

You will have to explain why you believe you qualify for a council tax exemption or discount. Your council will then require supporting evidence from you and might need you to fill in a form. You must receive the decision about a discount or exemption within two months.

If you disagree with the council’s decision, you can appeal to a valuation tribunal. To find out more information, visit the Valuation Tribunal Service website.

What if I can’t pay my council tax bill?

If you don’t pay your council tax bills, you’ll receive reminders from your local authority which can eventually result in a court order if you don’t respond or pay. 

If you can’t pay council tax due to financial problems, you might be eligible for a discount as explained in the ‘low income’ and ‘hardship relief’ section of this guide. 

Contact your local council to discuss your options.

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