If you're on a low income, you may be entitled to some help towards paying your council tax. This is called Council Tax Reduction (CTR).
Read this page to find out how to apply for CTR, when you should get your decision and what happens if you disagree with it.
How to apply for CTR
You should apply for CTR in writing, on a form provided by your local authority. You may also be able to apply online, or by telephone if your local authority accepts online or telephone applications.
If you apply in writing but don't use a proper form, you may be sent a form to complete.
If you apply by telephone, you may be asked to confirm a written statement sent to you by the local authority.
When you apply, you must give your national insurance number. If you don't have a number, you will have to apply for a number and you will need to be allocated a number before CTR can be paid.
Your local authority may treat your application as if it was received on a different date to the date they actually received it. For example, your claim may be backdated to the date you started receiving a benefit such as income-based Jobseeker's Allowance.
Who should apply for CTR?
If you have a partner, one of you can apply for CTR on behalf of both of you. You should agree between you which one of you should apply. Partners include:
- married couples
- civil partners
- unmarried couples living together as husband and wife
- same-sex couples living together as if you were in a civil partnership.
How to apply if you can't act for yourself
If you can't make an application for CTR for yourself, your local authority must allow someone else to apply on your behalf. You may not be able to make an application, for example, because you're disabled or have learning difficulties. The person who applies on your behalf can be an attorney or deputy, if you have appointed one, but it doesn't have to be.
If you're only temporarily unable to act for yourself, someone can act as an appointee on your behalf.
Changing an application
Once you have applied for CTR, you can withdraw or change your application before the local authority makes a decision on it. You should withdraw or change a written application in writing. If you made a telephone application, you can withdraw or change it by telephone.
Evidence to support an application
Once you have applied for CTR, you may be asked to provide evidence to support your application. For example, you may be asked to provide evidence of your income and savings. If you can't answer all the questions on a form or provide all the evidence you're asked for, you can put down 'information/evidence to follow'.
If you're asked to provide additional evidence to support your application, you should normally provide this within one month. If this isn't possible, for example, because you are ill, you should ask for the one month period to be extended.
How will you be notified of the local authority's decision?
Once a local authority has all the information or evidence it needs to decide on your application it must make its decision within 14 days. You must be notified of the decision in writing. You can ask in writing for written reasons for the decision but you must do this within one month. The written reasons for the decision should be sent to you within 14 days, or, if this can't be done, as soon as possible after then.
Disagreeing with a decision
You may disagree with your local authority's decision about whether you are entitled to CTR, or about the amount of CTR you're entitled to. If this is the case, you should write to tell them why you disagree with the decision. They should reply in writing, telling you if they are prepared to change their decision and, if not, why not. You should get their response within two months of sending your letter.
Appealing against a decision
If you are still not happy with your local authority's decision, you may be able to appeal to a Valuation Tribunal. You can only appeal if:
- you think your local authority has miscalculated the amount of CTR you're entitled to
- you think your local authority has not applied the rules of the CTR scheme properly
- your local authority hasn't replied to the letter you sent disagreeing with their decision within two months.