Applying for Council Tax Reduction

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You’ll have to apply to your local council to get Council Tax Reduction (CTR) or Second Adult Rebate.

Before you apply you need to check if you’re eligible for CTR or the Second Adult Rebate.

There are 2 sets of CTR rules. You should check which rules apply - it affects things like how much CTR you can get and when you can make the application.

Check which CTR rules apply

Which rules apply usually depends on whether you’ve reached State Pension age.

You can check your State Pension age on GOV.UK.

If you’re under State Pension age, the ‘working age CTR rules’ apply.

If you’ve reached State Pension age, the ‘pension age CTR rules’ usually apply.

Even if you’ve reached State Pension age, the working age CTR rules will apply if you or your partner get:

  • Universal Credit

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • Income Support

The pension age CTR rules are usually more generous than the working age CTR rules. If you have a partner and one of you is under State Pension age, it’s usually best for the person who’s reached State Pension age to apply.

Check when to apply for CTR

If you’re eligible for CTR, it’s best to apply as soon as you can.

You can apply early if you know when you’re going to be eligible. If you apply early, you won’t have to wait as long to get CTR when you become eligible.

You can apply for CTR up to 8 weeks before you’re first responsible for paying council tax on your home - for example if you haven’t moved in yet.

If you’re already responsible for paying council tax, you can apply for CTR up to 13 weeks before you become eligible for CTR - for example if you’ve recently found out you’ll be made redundant. You can make the application up to 17 weeks early if the pension age CTR rules apply to you - or if they will apply to you by the time you become eligible.

Check how to apply for CTR

You can fill in a form or apply online. Your local council might also let you apply by telephone. You can find your local council’s website on GOV.UK - it will tell you how to apply.

If you live with a partner, only one of you needs to apply.

Check if you can backdate your CTR

If you’re already eligible for CTR when you make the application, you might be able to get it backdated. The rules depend on whether the working age CTR rules or the pension age CTR rules apply.

If the working age CTR rules apply, check your local council’s CTR policy. You might be able to ask for your CTR to be backdated if there’s a good reason you couldn’t make the application earlier - for example because you were ill. You can find your local council’s website on GOV.UK.

If the pension age CTR rules apply, you can ask your local council to backdate your CTR for up to 3 months before you made the application. You don’t need to give a reason why you didn’t claim earlier.

Ask for your CTR to be backdated on the CTR application form. The form might have a section about backdating - it’s sometimes called a ‘late application’. If there isn’t a section about backdating or late applications, write on a separate piece of paper and send it to the council with your form. Explain when your CTR should be backdated to and why.

Sending evidence with your application

Your local council’s website should say what evidence you need to send. For example, you might have to send evidence of your income and savings.

If you need more time to get the evidence, write 'evidence to follow' on the application form and send it as soon as possible.

After you apply, your local council might contact you and say you need to send more evidence. You should normally send extra evidence within 1 month. Tell your local council if:

  • you can’t get the evidence they’ve asked for

  • you need more time - for example if you’re ill

If you put the wrong information on your application form

If you made a mistake, contact your local council and ask to change your application as soon as possible. It’s best to ask in writing so you can keep a copy of your letter or email.

Getting the council’s decision

When your local council has all the information and evidence it needs, it should make a decision and tell you in writing.

If the council’s decision isn’t clear, write to them as soon as possible and ask them to explain their decision.

If the council’s decision isn’t clear, write to them and ask them to explain it within 1 month of the decision.

The council should usually send you their reasons within 14 days.

If you still can’t afford to pay your council tax

You can ask your local council to reduce your council tax because you’re struggling. This is called a ‘discretionary reduction’.

You can apply for a discretionary reduction whether or not you’re getting CTR. You can get CTR and a discretionary reduction at the same time. 

If you’ve fallen behind with council tax payments, you can also apply for a discretionary reduction to pay them off.

You can find your local council’s website on GOV.UK - it should tell you how to apply for a discretionary reduction.

If the council’s website doesn’t say how to apply, contact them and ask for ‘a discretionary reduction under section 13A(1)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992’.

Explain why you’re struggling and send the council evidence, for example:

  • a copy of a letter from your doctor - if you’re ill or you have a disability

  • a copy of a letter from your landlord - if you’re behind with rent payments

  • a list of your income and spending each month - you can use a budgeting tool to help you make a list

If you disagree with a decision about CTR or a discretionary reduction

Write to your local council - explain why you disagree and ask them to reconsider.

You should write to the council as soon as possible. You can check how long you have to challenge the decision in your local council’s CTR policy. You can find your local council’s website on GOV.UK.

The council should send you a reply in writing within 2 months. They should tell you if they will change their decision and why.

If you still disagree with the council’s decision, you might be able to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

Appealing to the Valuation Tribunal

You can only appeal after you’ve told your local council why you disagree with their decision and asked them to reconsider. You can appeal after they reply - or after 2 months if they don’t reply.

You can appeal if either:

  • you think the council haven’t followed the rules of the CTR scheme - for example if they refused to give you CTR when they should have

  • the council refused to give you a discretionary reduction

You can start your appeal on the Valuation Tribunal’s website.

You should appeal within 2 months of the council’s reply. If they didn’t reply you should appeal within 4 months of the date you asked them to reconsider. If you don’t appeal in time, contact the Valuation Tribunal - they might still let you appeal.

Valuation Tribunal (England)

2nd Floor

Black Lion House

45 Whitechapel Road


E1 1DU

Tel: 020 7426 3900

Fax: 020 7247 6598



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Page last reviewed on 08 July 2021