Millions of homeowners are facing much steeper council tax bills this month, so it’s vital to make sure you claim any help possible if you’re struggling to cover costs.
The typical Band D council tax bill for residents in England has risen by £98 from £1,966 a year to £2,064 in the new tax year, piling on even more financial pressure for those already finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, said: “Unlike some other bills, you can’t haggle down or switch to a better deal when it comes to council tax, but you might be able to pay less council tax or not pay it at all depending on your circumstances.”
Here, we look at some of the discounts and support you might be eligible for to help keep council tax costs down.
Single person’s discount
If you're the only adult in your home, you’ll get a 25% discount on your council tax bill. That means if you’re a single parent living with any number of children under the age of 18, or if you live alone, you’ll be able to qualify.
If everyone who lives in your house or a flat is a full-time student then you don't have to pay Council Tax at all.
If you’re a carer
If you are a live-in carer, for example, caring for a parent or sibling who has a disability, and you perform this role for at least 35 hours a week, you’ll be disregarded from Council Tax. This means that if it’s just you and the person you care for living in the property, the household can claim a 25% reduction in Council Tax. This increases to 50% if you’re caring for an adult with a severe mental impairment, for example, someone with dementia or who has suffered a severe stroke.
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Help if you’re on a low income
If you’re on a low income and claiming benefits, you could be entitled to some help towards paying your council tax in the form of a Council Tax reduction. Each council runs its own Council Tax support scheme, and your bills could be reduced by up to 100% depending on your circumstances. You can check what help is available in your area by getting in touch with your local authority.
A spokesman for consumer association Which? said: “These discounts are not applied automatically and may vary depending on the local authority, so if you think you fit the bill, you will need to write to the council and make your case.
“If you are unable to pay your bill, it is important to contact your local council immediately. There are several ways it may be able to help, including rescheduling payments, reducing payments if you're on a low income or claiming benefits, and offering 'hardship relief'.”
Might you be in the wrong band?
If you think your property might be in the wrong Council Tax band, perhaps because you’ve discovered one or more of your neighbours who are living in similar properties are in a lower band, you can apply to get your banding changed. You can do this by making a formal challenge to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), or the Scottish Assessors’ Association (SAA) if you live in Scotland.
Find out more about how to appeal your Council Tax band at GOV.UK. It’s worth noting, however, that your band can be moved down as well as up, so you must be absolutely certain that yours is too high, and be able to provide evidence to support your challenge, before appealing.