Council Tax Reduction - how to apply
You may be entitled to help with paying your council tax if:
- you're on a low income
- you claim benefits with the Department for Work and Pensions, or
- you claim benefits with the Pension Service
This support is called Council Tax Reduction (CTR).
This page tells you more about applying for CTR. It includes when you can make an advance or a backdated application, and what to do if you can't provide some of the information the local authority asks for.
Apply for Council Tax Reduction
Contact your local authority to find out how to apply. They may ask you to apply on paper, online or both. Some local authorities also accept telephone applications.
If you apply in writing, but not on an application form, you may be sent a form to complete, or you may be asked for further information.
If you apply online you should make sure your local authority has received your application. If you don’t get an online acknowledgement, call your local authority to check that they have your application.
If you apply by phone, you may be asked for a written statement to support your application.
When you can apply
Apply before you move in
You might be able to apply for CTR before you become responsible for the council tax bill. It can be useful to do this to make sure that there are no gaps in your payments and you don't get into arrears.
If you are not yet liable for the council tax on the property, for example because you have not yet moved in, but are likely to be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction (CTR) when you become liable, you can make your application in advance. You can apply up to 13 weeks in advance.
Get money back from council tax you've already paid
You may be able to get a CTR for a period before you made your application if you could have applied earlier. Getting a reduction for a period before you apply is called ‘backdating’.
If you are classed as a pensioner for CTR purposes you can backdate an application for CTR for up to three months automatically without having to show a good reason for the delay.
If you are not classed as a pensioner for CTR purposes you can get backdated CTR for up to three months (some local authorities will allow a longer period) if you can show you have a good reason for not applying earlier, for example, you were given wrong advice. You also have to show that you were entitled to Council Tax Reduction throughout the period of backdating, that you were responsible for paying council tax, and that your income was low enough. You will not get a backdated reduction just because you did not know that you could apply. You should explain on your application form that you want to apply from an earlier date, and give your reasons for failing to apply earlier.
If you want to apply for a backdated Council Tax Reduction, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
- To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB
- More about who is classed as a pensioner for CTR
Evidence to support an application
The application form may ask you to provide evidence to support any information you give. Your local authority can ask for more evidence after you've applied if they think the information is unclear.
If you can't answer all the questions on the form immediately, or you don't have the evidence to hand, you should write 'information/evidence to follow' against any question you cannot answer, rather than delay making the application.
You will usually be expected to provide evidence of earnings, for example, payslips, and of savings, for example, bank statements.
If you are asked for information or evidence, you should supply it within one month. If you think that you will not be able to provide the information or evidence within the month, you should tell the local authority in writing as soon as possible, and ask for the period to be extended.