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What is Council Tax support?

Council Tax support is a local scheme which aims to help those on a low income by reducing the amount of Council Tax they have to pay.

Our local scheme was introduced in April 2013 and replaced the previous Council Tax benefit scheme. The government does, however, place some restrictions on how the local scheme works.

You can find further information in our Council Tax Support Scheme Summary. [PDF, 0.4MB]

Who can claim Council Tax Support?

You can claim Council Tax Support if:

  • you are at least 18 years old

  • you are the person responsible for paying Council Tax

  • the property is your main or only residence.

The way your Council Tax Support is assessed depends on whether you are of state pension credit age or of working age. 

Evidence of identity must be provided for you and any partner on all new clams made.

Who cannot claim Council Tax Support?

Generally you cannot claim Council Tax Support if you: 

  • are not liable to pay Council Tax

  • have savings of £16,000 or more

  • are a full-time student

  • are from abroad and have no recourse to public funds. 

Support for people of working age

If you are of working age you will generally have to pay at least 20% of your Council Tax bill. There are exceptions for people who are severely disabled, those with disabled children and families with children under five. However, the actual amount of Council Tax you have to pay will depend on the makeup of your household, your income and savings and any other discounts that may apply. 

Support for pensioners 

If you are receiving Pension Guarantee Credit you will normally get all your Council Tax paid. However, we may make a deduction if you have any other adults (also called non-dependants) living with you in the property. 

Our guide, Council Tax Support for Pensioners [PDF, 0.1MB], has more information about the pensioner scheme. 

Second Adult Rebate 

You may be entitled to claim Second Adult Rebate if you are of pensionable age and have too much income yourself to qualify for Council Tax Support, but you have other adults (not your partner or a tenant or lodger) living with you that are on a low income. 

Read our page, 'What is a Second Adult Rebate?' for more information.

Claim for Second Adult Rebate

 How is my Council Tax Support calculated?

We will compare your income with your ‘living allowance’, which is the minimum amount you and your family need to live on each week. When working out your living allowance we will look at: 

  • you and your partner’s age

  • any disabilities you and your partner may have

  • any children you get Child Benefit for. 

What is counted as income? 

  • wages less deductions for tax and national insurance

  • self-employed earnings

  • Universal Credit

  • Tax Credits (child and working)

  • Child Benefit (not including the amount you receive for the first or eldest child. Child Benefit for pension-age customers is not counted)

  • State Pensions

  • Pension Credit (savings credit element)

  • other pensions (including occupational and private pensions)

  • annuities

  • Employment Support Allowance

  • Incapacity Benefit

  • other Social Security benefits/allowances (Job Seeker's Allowance, Income Support Severe Disablement Allowance, Widows Pension etc)

  • maintenance received

  • child maintenance

  • some charitable payments

  • student grants/loans

  • any other income received by you or your partner on a regular basis. 

Some benefits and allowances such as Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payments are not counted as income but do affect the calculation. Therefore, you must tell us if you receive any of them. We also ignore payments for War Disability Pensions or War Widow Pensions but we must be told about these if you receive them.

What about child care costs or other expenses paid out? 

Some expenses you and any partner may pay out can be taken off the income we use to calculate your entitlement. These are: 

  • 50% of the contribution paid into a pension scheme either from your wages or through a personal contribution scheme

  • payments for child care if you and any partner both work 16 hours or more each week. 

Read our page, Child Care Costs for more information. 

What about savings? 

Unless you receive Pension Guarantee Credit, Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance or Income Related Employment Support Allowance, we will look at the amount of savings and other capital you and any partner have. This includes: 

  • money held in banks, building societies or the Post Office

  • Income Bonds

  • National Savings Certificates

  • shares

  • ISAs

  • cash at home

  • property (not the one you live in) or land you own. 

How are savings used in the calculation? 

The way we treat your savings is different depending on your age. 

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People of Working Age Pensioners 

When we look at your savings we do not count the first £6,000. For every £250 or part of £250 you have in savings above £6,000, £1 will be used as income. We call this 'tariff income' and it will be added to your other money when we work out your normal weekly income.

For example:

  • if you have £8,450 in savings, we do not count the first £6,000 leaving £2,450

  • £2,450 divided by £250 = £10 (tariff income)

When we look at your savings we do not count the first £10,000. For every £500 or part of £500 you have in savings above £10,000, £1 will be used as income. We call this 'tariff income' and it will be added to your other income when we work out your normal weekly income.

For example:

  • if you have £12,450 in savings, we do not count the first £10,000 leaving £2,450

  • £2,450 divided by £500 = £5 (tariff income)

If your total savings are £16,000 or more you will not qualify for any Council Tax Support. 

Some types of compensation payments (for example a Far East compensation payment) do not count when working out your total savings. You must tell us about all savings and we will let you know if we can ignore them. 

Deductions from your Council Tax Support 

The amount of support you get may be reduced because you have other adults living with you and we may have to make a deduction for these. We call the other adults 'non-dependants'. View our page below for more information about this: 

What is a Non-Dependant Deduction?

How do I apply? 

You should make your claim as soon as possible by completing the form below. If you delay claiming you may lose support. You may also have to provide us with additional information and documents to support your claim – a checklist will be produced at the end of the form telling you what further information we need. 

Apply for Council Tax Support

We will then work out your entitlement and send you a decision letter explaining how we have worked out any award. Please read the letter to make sure we are using the correct information. If we are not, let us know straight away. 

Our guide, Your Council Tax Support Letters Explained [PDF, 3MB], will help you to understand the letters we send you. 

We use electronic scanners to check and verify identity documents from all customers applying to access council services. We will scan documents with a product called Trust ID.

How long does it take? 

We will try to deal with your claim within 14 days of receiving all the information we need. 

However, if you are making a new claim for Universal Credit as well as Council Tax Support, your entitlement will be based on your first Universal Credit award which may take up to 6 weeks from the date you first claimed with them.

Can my claim be backdated? 

We can award help from an earlier date provided you have a good reason for not making a claim sooner.
Not knowing about Council Tax Support or not filling in the form when first asked to claim are not good reasons. You must tell us of other things which may have stopped you from claiming sooner.

If you are of working age, we can backdate your claim up to six calendar months. If you are of state pension credit age, we can backdate your claim up to three calendar months, depending on your circumstances.

See Backdating Your Council Tax Support Claim for more information. 

Need help with your claim? 

If you need help making your claim online, please call us on 01480 388308 and our advisers will help you with any questions you may have. You can also make a claim online at our customer service centre where help is also available. 

If you are housebound, we may be able to arrange someone to visit you at home to help you. Please call us on 01480 388308 to discuss what we can do to help.

Council Tax Support Fund 2023/24

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has provided local authorities with additional funding to help low income households with their Council Tax payments. Part of the funding for 2023/24 is to reduce bills for pension age and working age Council Tax payers in receipt of Council Tax Support by up to £25.

To qualify for the payment, customers must be in receipt of Council Tax Support at 1 April 2023 and have an outstanding 2023/24 Council Tax charge. Council Tax payers can receive up to £25 reduction in their Council Tax and, where the outstanding bill for 2023/24 after the award of Council Tax Support is less than £25, the charge would be reduced to zero. For Council Tax payers who receive full Council Tax Support and therefore have no outstanding Council Tax charge for 2023/24, no reduction to the bill will be made.

There is no need to apply for a Council Tax Support Fund payment. If you qualify, we will automatically apply the reduction to your 2023/24 Council Tax bill.

November 2023 update

The guidance from the government also allowed local authorities to award discretionary amounts where not all of the Council Tax Support funding received had been spent. Therefore, based on the remaining funds available to us, we have decided to award up to an extra £21 to qualifying customers to further reduce the Council Tax charge for 2023/24. A new bill will be issued automatically to those who qualify.

Change of circumstances 

You can use the form below to tell us about any change in your circumstances. The form will also give you a list of any additional documents you need to give us, to support your change in circumstances. 

Tell us about a change in your circumstances

 You must let us know immediately of any changes to your circumstances so we can make sure the correct amount of Council Tax Support is being paid. 

Examples of the type of things you should tell us about: 

  • any changes to your or your partner’s income or earnings

  • any increases or decreases in the amount of savings you have

  • changes to your address

  • if someone comes to live with you or someone living with you moves out

  • if someone living with you starts or finishes work, or their income changes. 

If you are not sure what you must tell us about, please tell us anyway and we will let you know if it affects your Council Tax Support. 

Once we have recalculated your Council Tax Support, any changes to your entitlement will be sent to your Council Tax account. We will also send you a revised Council Tax bill showing the new balance.