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Council Tax Reduction - who can apply?

This advice applies to England

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 settled status or a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’
  • 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

Your right to reside depends on things like your work, family and personal situation. You can check if you have a right to reside.

You can only claim CTR if you have:

  • British citizenship and can prove you are ‘habitually resident’

  • pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme and another right to reside

  • indefinite leave to remain or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme

If none of these apply to you, you might be able to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme. You’ll need to have a good reason for missing the deadline of 30 June 2021. Find out more about claiming benefits if you’re from the EU.

Exemptions from the right to reside and habitual residence test

Your client might be exempt - for example, if they were the victim of trafficking. 

You can check if your client is exempt from the right to reside and habitual residence test.

Find out more about staying in the UK if you're from the EU.

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.

Pensioners

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.

Discretionary reductions

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.

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