Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Coronavirus: Extra Help - Council Tax Bills
Coronavirus - Council Tax Bills
People can get help with their Council Tax bill through three systems of support:

  • Council Tax Support / Reduction (which replaced Council Tax Benefit in 2013)
  • Council Tax Discounts
  • Exceptional Hardship Fund

Depending on their circumstances, they may be entitled to one or all of these.

The government set up a Council Tax Hardship Fund that provided extra help due to the Coronavirus outbreak to those on Council Tax Support / Reduction, which for most claimants meant a £150 reduction in their Council tax bill for 2020/21.
For more information and for potential help in 2021/22 
click here.

Council Tax Support / Reduction
Council Tax Support/Reduction is a benefit to help people who are on a low income or claiming certain benefits to pay their Council Tax bill.

It is a means-tested benefit so entitlement depends on income and personal circumstances.

Each Local Authority is responsible for operating their own Council Tax Support scheme so the amounts of support given across the country may vary.

The person should contact their Local Authority to find out about their Council Tax Support scheme and whether they can qualify.

Where awarded it is not a cash benefit but a reduction to the claimant's Council Tax Bill.

Top Tip - Even if someone is only entitled to a very small amount of Council Tax Support it is worth claiming.

Second Adult Rebate

If you don’t qualify for Council Tax Support/Reduction (or if Second Adult Rebate works out better for you) you might be able to get this instead. 

It is not based on your income. If another adult lives with you who is not your partner and is not ‘invisible’ and they are on a low enough income, you might qualify for a discount of up to 25%. 

Check with your local authority.
Council Tax discounts
In England and Wales the discount scheme is national Click here to find out more.
In Scotland it depends on the local authority's policies: check on mygov.scot.

Top tip – if your circumstances mean you should have been getting a discount in the past – let your Council know – discounts can be ‘backdated’.

There are different types of discounts:
  • Discounts based on who lives in the household – which can reduce a Council Tax bill by anything from 25% to 100%.
  • Second adult rebate – a 25% reduction could be given (instead of Council Tax Reduction/Support) if another adult (not partner) on a low income lives in the property 
  • Discounts for disability – which can mean the Council Tax bill drops by one band

Discounts based on who lives in the household 

We have listed below the main rules for England and Wales. Similar rules could apply in Scotland – check with your council.

What you could get off your Council Tax bill:

  • 25% discount if you live alone or if everybody else who lives with you is ‘invisible’.
  • 50% discount if all the people living in your home (including yourself) are ‘invisible’ (but see next point about 100% discounts).
  • 100% discount (meaning no bill to pay) if the only people living in your home (including yourself) are:
    • Classed as severely mentally impaired,
    • or
    • Full time student/s (21hrs a week)

Who is ‘invisible’, so does not count as living in your property?
  • Aged under 18,
  • Full-time students, apprentices, & under 25’s on certain traineeships,
  • Severely mentally impaired (see below),
  • Certain carers (strict rules - see below),
  • Anyone whose main home is elsewhere.

Severely mentally impaired means anyone who:
  • ‘Has a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused) which appears to be permanent’
  • and
  • has a certificate from a registered medical practitioner confirming this,
  • and
  • is entitled to one of the following benefits:
    • Personal Independence Payment daily living component 
    • DLA middle or high rate care component
    • Attendance Allowance
    • Employment and Support Allowance 
    • Universal Credit and has a limited capability for work or work-related activity 
    • Working Tax Credit with disability element
    • Income Support with disability premium
    • Incapacity Benefit – any rate 
    • Severe Disablement Allowance

A carer is ‘invisible’ for Council Tax purposes if they are:
  • caring for someone who lives in the same household, and who is not their partner or their child under 18, 
  • they spend 35 hours a week or more caring for them, and
  • the person they care for gets the enhanced daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, the high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance or high rate Attendance Allowance.

NOTE: They do not need to be claiming Carer’s Allowance
NOTE: More than one carer can be ‘invisible’ – ie 2 carers both spending 35 hours pw caring for the same person.

The Disability Reduction Scheme
You may get a disability reduction if:

  • You or someone else who lives with you is ‘substantially and permanently disabled’.
  • (This can be an adult or child, whether or not they are related to you.)
  • AND
    • You have an extra bathroom or kitchen needed by the disabled person,
    • or
    • You have a room other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet which is used mainly by the disabled person,
    • or
    • You have extra space in your dwelling for that person to use a wheelchair indoors.

If you qualify for a disability reduction your Council Tax bill will be reduced to the amount payable in the band below yours, or if your property is in band A, it will be reduced proportionately.

Council Tax Exceptional Hardship Funds
Every Local Authority has to have an exceptional hardship fund instead. It is a statutory fund - financed by the Local Authority themselves (and so help is limited) - to alleviate hardship by reducing a Council Tax bill in exceptional cases. 

These funds are not always very well advertised and awareness of them is low. 

Where awarded, the claimant will not receive a cash payment, instead it is an adjustment to their Council Tax Bill and can reduce the bill to zero. 

What are the rules? 
The overall principle is that paying the current years’ Council Tax liability is causing the claimant exceptional hardship, even after doing whatever they can to reduce their outgoings. 

Each Local Authority can set their own scheme, so the rules can vary. Generally, if the claimant is struggling to pay any rental liability as well, they will be expected to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment first.

And some schemes have conditions, such as working with a third party agency for budgeting support, before any assistance will be given. 

If a Local Authority refuses to provide further help, or says that they do not run such a scheme, the claimant can appeal to a Valuation Tribunal. The Tribunal has the power to order an authority to reduce, or even cancel, a Council Tax Bill.