Council Tax Reduction - who can apply?
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).
Although each local authority in England has its own CTR scheme, there are some general rules about who can apply for CTR. These rules apply both to pensioners and to people of working age.
Read this page to find out about who can apply for CTR.
You must live in the property where you're applying for CTR
You will only be entitled to apply for CTR for a property if you actually live there. It must be your only or main residence.
If you're temporarily away from home, your local authority may ignore your absence. If you're a pensioner, the Government has said exactly which periods of absence must be ignored under a CTR scheme.
If you live in two properties which are next door to one another and you're responsible for council tax on both properties, you may be entitled to CTR for both properties.
You must be responsible for paying council tax
Before you apply for CTR, you should make sure you're the person responsible (liable) for paying council tax on the property. You may be responsible for the council tax even if your name is not on the bill. In some cases, you may be jointly responsible for the council tax with someone else.
You should also check whether the property is exempt from council tax or whether there are discounts that apply.
If you’re a British citizen and you’ve recently returned to the UK
You'll need to show that the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’.
If you've recently returned to the UK after a period of living or working abroad you might have difficulty showing that you are habitually resident.
If you're unsure about anything, seek the help of an adviser.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need more help.
Advising on Council Tax Reduction and immigration status
Generalist advisers can help clients with Council Tax Reduction issues related to their immigration status - this topic isn’t regulated by the OISC. Check what immigration advice is regulated by the OISC.
If you’re from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein
To apply for CTR you need to show:
- you have a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’ and depends on things like your work, family and personal situation
- the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident
To stay in the UK after 30 June 2021 you need to apply for ‘settled status’ or ‘pre-settled status’. It’s best to apply as soon as you can.
You must be in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply for settled status or pre-settled status.
If you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years or more
You should apply for ‘settled status’. If you have settled status, you automatically have a right to reside.
Check how to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years
You should apply for ‘pre-settled status’ - if you have it, you might be able to get CTR. You’ll still need to show:
- you have a right to reside - some types won't let you claim CTR, for example if you're a jobseeker, so check if you have a right to reside
- you’re habitually resident - check if you’re habitually resident
Check how to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you're subject to immigration control
You won't normally be allowed to apply for CTR if you're subject to immigration control, although there are some exceptions to this rule.
Do you have too much capital?
Your local CTR scheme is likely to exclude some people from applying because they have too much capital. Capital means things like savings and some types of property.
If you have too much capital to be entitled to CTR you may be able to claim a second adult rebate instead.
If you're a pensioner, you should be able to get CTR if you've got less than £16,000 worth of capital. However, unless you get the guarantee part of Pension Credit (in which case your capital is ignored) you won't be able to get CTR if you've got capital of over £16,000.
People of working age
Your local authority can set its own capital limit for people of working age. This is likely to be £16,000 or less.
Under council tax legislation, your local authority has the power to reduce or cancel your council tax bill, even if you're not exempt from paying or entitled to a discount or reduction. This power is called discretionary, because your local authority can choose when, if and how to use it.
This power is normally only used in exceptional cases.