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Council Tax Reduction - are you eligible

This advice applies to Scotland

Types of Council Tax Reduction (CTR) you may be eligible for

The types of CTR are:

  • Main CTR, which you may be eligible for if you have a low income 
  • Bands E-H relief CTR, which you may be eligible for if you have a low income and you live in a home in council tax band E-H. This was introduced to provide relief for the increased council tax rates for these properties from 1 April 2017, throughout Scotland
  • Second Adult Rebate is a form of CTR that can be paid instead of main or bands E-H relief CTR, depending on the circumstances of your household. It also reduces your council tax bill.

You can only be awarded the one which gives you the largest reduction on your council tax bill, so consider your eligibility for each of the three types. If you need help deciding which of the CTR schemes to apply for, you can get help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get help

If you are a student, special rules apply to you.

Check if you can reduce your council tax bill 

You can use our Check my council tax tool to help you find out whether you are exempt from having to pay council tax, or you are eligible for a discount or reduction in your bill.

Am I eligible for Main CTR?

You will be eligible for Council Tax Reduction (CTR) if:-

 Do you live in the property?

You can only be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction (CTR) if you are resident, or are treated as if you were resident, in the property. The property must be your sole or main residence, and you must be liable for the council tax bill.

If you occupy more than one property, for example because you have a large family, you may be liable to pay council tax on both properties.

Are you liable to pay council tax?

If you aren't responsible for paying part or all of the council tax bill, you can't apply for a reduction on the bill. 

If you are under 18 you are not liable for council tax and so cannot be eligible for a CTR.

Do you have too much capital?

If you have too much capital, you will not be entitled to a CTR. Capital means things like savings and some types of property. If you are part of a couple or a polygamous marriage, the capital of both, or all, of you is taken into account.

It can be complicated for some types of payment, for example a payment for arrears of income can be treated as capital. If you want more information about how capital and income are treated for CTR, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

If your capital is over £16,000 you are not entitled to a CTR, unless you are also entitled to the guarantee credit part of pension credit. If you have some capital under this amount, it may be treated as a type of income to calculate CTR.

Residence rules

To be eligible for a CTR you must:

  • have the right to reside, and
  • not be subject to immigration control, and
  • satisfy, or be exempt from the habitual residence test (which can apply to British citizens), and
  • be present in Great Britain.

You are also eligible if you:

  • have refugee status
  • have humanitarian protection
  • have discretionary leave or exceptional leave to remain, granted outside the immigration rules.

You are away from Great Britain

You are treated as present in Great Britain if you are:

  • a member of HM Forces or a Crown servant posted overseas, or
  • an aircraft worker or a mariner with a UK contract of employment, or
  • a continental shelf worker in designated EU or Norwegian waters, for example on an oil rig.

If you are the partner of someone treated as present in Great Britain due to her/his employment and you are with them due to this, you are also treated as being present in Great Britain for a CTR.

If you are away from Great Britain but intending to return, you can still get a CTR if you are away:

  • for any reason for up to one month, so long as you have not been absent on more than two occasions in the previous 52 weeks, or
  • for the second month that you are away if it is due to the death of a close relative of you or your partner, and your local authority is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to expect you to return within the first month, or
  • for up to 6 months if your absence is due to treatment by an appropriately qualified person, or medically approved convalescence or care, for you or a close relative for an illness, or physical or mental disability.

You should tell your local authority about changes in your circumstances that may affect your CTR.

Is your income below a certain amount?

There a special rules for working out how much income you have if you are a pensioner or non-pensioner. Pensioner has a particular meaning for council tax. 

Are you eligible for Second Adult Rebate?

You may be able to claim Second Adult Rebate if you have to pay council tax and you live with someone else, other than your partner. The other person must be 18 or over, not paying rent, not responsible to pay council tax, and have income below a certain amount. The other person cannot be someone who is 'disregarded' when the local authority work out whether you can get a discount in the amount of council tax that you pay.

To claim Second Adult Rebate, you have to give information about the income of the adult (or adults) living with you. Your own income and capital are not taken into account for Second Adult Rebate.

When you claim Council Tax Reduction or Second Adult Rebate, the local authority should work out which will give you the most help with your council tax, but they may assume you are not entitled to Second Adult Rebate if details of the second adult's income are not given. The second adult may be a student.

You can only be awarded one of the schemes - Second Adult Rebate, Council Tax Reduction (CTR), or bands E-H relief CTR. You may be entitled to more than one, but you should apply for the scheme that gives you the greatest reduction on your council tax. You may be better off applying for Second Adult Rebate instead of CTR.

If you want more information about Second Adult Rebate and how it is calculated, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

Are you eligible for bands E-H relief CTR?

Bands E-H relief CTR is a new form of council tax reduction introduced from 1 April 2017. You will be eligible for this form of CTR if:-

There are special income rules for bands E-H relief CTR and your reduction is calculated in a different way than main CTR. 

Next steps

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