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Check what changes you need to report if you're getting Council Tax Reduction

This advice applies to England

There are some changes you’ll need to report to your local council if you get Council Tax Reduction (CTR). A change might mean you get more or less CTR - your council will tell you if it does.

If you don’t report these changes, you might:

  • get the wrong amount of CTR - if the council don’t charge you enough council tax you’ll need to pay the extra money in the future
  • have to pay a penalty
  • be taken to court by the council

Check which rules apply to you

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 rules’ apply.

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

Even if you’ve reached State Pension age, the working age 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

Check what you need to report

You need to tell your council about anything that might affect how much CTR you get. The exact rules are set by your local council.

Your council should have sent you a letter when you first claimed CTR to tell you how much you get. This letter also tells you what changes you need to report. 

You’ll usually need to report if:

  • your or your partner’s income changes
  • you increase your savings
  • you stop getting benefits
  • someone joins or leaves your household
  • you move home - if you move to a new council area, you should tell your old council and apply for CTR with your new council

If you stop getting benefits

You usually have to tell your local council if you or your partner stop getting any benefits.

You don't have to tell the council about changes to your benefits if you're still getting the guarantee part of Pension Credit.

If your benefits stop because you’re earning more money

You might be able to carry on getting the same amount of CTR for an extra 4 weeks. 

If the working age rules apply to you, you’ll need to check with your local council. 

If the pension age rules apply to you, you can usually get the extra 4 weeks of CTR as long as you or your partner were getting one of these benefits for at least 26 weeks:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit

If your benefits stop because you or your partner move to Pension Credit

If you’re still entitled to CTR but it’s less than before, you’ll keep getting the higher amount for 4 weeks.  

You don't need to apply for this extra CTR - you should get it automatically. If you think you should have got it and you didn’t, check with your local council.

If you’ll be away from home

You can normally only get CTR when you’re living in your home.

If the working age rules apply to you, the rules on getting CTR while you’re away from home will depend on your local council - you’ll need to check with them. 

If the pension age rules apply to you

You’re allowed to spend time away from your home and keep getting CTR if:

  • you plan to return home
  • you’re not letting, or subletting your home while you’re away
  • you’re not planning to be away from England, Scotland or Wales for longer than 4 weeks during this time 
  • you’re not planning to be away from home for more than 13 weeks, even if you’re staying in England, Scotland or Wales

If you’re planning to be away from England, Scotland or Wales for part of a longer period when you’re away, it must be at the beginning of your trip.

If your reason for being away from England, Scotland or Wales is related to a close family bereavement, you should tell your local council. They might let you be away for up to 8 weeks and keep getting CTR.

If you’re away for more than 13 weeks

You’ll need to tell your local council if you’re likely to be away for more than 13 weeks.

You can keep getting CTR for up to a year if you’re:

  • a prisoner or on bail waiting for your trial or sentence
  • a patient in a hospital or another place you’re being cared for
  • staying with your partner or dependent child who’s getting medical treatment or recovering in hospital
  • on a training course
  • providing medically approved care for someone
  • caring for a child whose parent or guardian is away receiving medical treatment
  • a student
  • away from home because of fear of violence

If you need to be away from home for some other reason it might be worth thinking about whether someone else living in your property could apply for CTR instead of you.

If you’re going to be away from England, Scotland or Wales during the time you’re away from home, you’ll need to ask your council how long you can keep getting CTR. 

If you’re staying in a care home on a trial basis

You can continue getting CTR for up to 13 weeks, as long as:

  • you intend to return home if the residential care home doesn’t suit you

  • you don’t let or sublet your home while you’re away

  • you haven’t been away from home for more than 52 weeks

Reporting a change

You should report changes as soon as possible after they happen.  If the change increases your CTR you might miss out on extra money if you tell the council late.

You should still tell the council if you think a change might reduce your CTR - you won't save money by reporting it later. If you don’t tell the council when the change happens they might not charge you enough council tax and you’ll need to pay the extra money later.

You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

Make a note of the date and time you report the change.

If you report a change by phone you can also make a note of who you spoke to. It’s a good idea to follow up your phone call in writing.

If you don’t report a change

Your local council might:

  • ask you to pay a penalty
  • take you to court 

You shouldn't have to pay a penalty if you have a reasonable excuse for not telling your council about the change. For example, it might be a reasonable excuse if you or someone in your family has been ill or if you don't speak much English.

If your local council say they’re investigating you for fraud

They could ask you to go to an ‘interview under caution’. You can find out what to do if you’ve been invited to an interview under caution

If your local council ask you to pay a penalty

If you pay the penalty your council won’t take you to court. 

If you got more CTR than you should have and your council decides it was fraud, the penalty will be half of the extra CTR. The penalty will be a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £1000. You’ll also have to repay the extra CTR you got before you reported the change.

If you'll struggle to pay the penalty, check what other help you can get with living costs.

Example - paying a CTR penalty

Anna didn’t report to her council when her partner moved into her house. Her partner earns money, so she knew she would get less CTR than when she was living alone. 

Anna’s local council find out she’s living with her partner, and work out they should have given Anna £300 less CTR over the past year. 

Anna’s local council might ask her to repay the £300 extra CTR, plus a penalty. The penalty is half of £300, which is £150. Anna owes the council a total of £300 + £150 = £450. 

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