Council Tax Support gives you a reduction on your Council Tax bill if you are on a low income. You will get a revised Council Tax bill with a reduced balance rather than getting the benefit in cash.
Council Tax Support is sometimes called Council Tax Reduction. Council Tax Support/Council Tax Reduction replaced Council Tax Benefit. Different councils can have different rules for Council Tax Support/Council Tax Reduction.
Following a recent public consultation the Council Tax Support Scheme has changed from 1 April 2020. It is less complex and easier to administer. The changes to the scheme only affect those of working age; the national scheme for pensioners is unchanged. The new scheme will reduce the amount of changes with less Council Tax demands issued.
Who can claim Council Tax Support
You can claim Council Tax Support whether you work or not if all the following apply:
- you live in the property
- you are liable for Council Tax (whether you own or rent)
- you are on a low income
- you have less than £6,000 in savings if you are of working age, or less than £16,000 if you are Pension Credit age unless you get Guarantee Pension Credit, when you might be able to claim even if your savings are higher
You can check your Pension Credit age at GOV.UK.
- you are not a sponsored immigrant getting financial support from a UK resident
Only one person in a couple can claim Council Tax Support.
You can claim Council Tax Support for help towards your share of the Council Tax if you live with other people as a joint tenant. You can claim even if the other people are not on a low income.
How to apply for Council Tax Support
We find that most people check if they are entitled to any help before they actually apply for Council Tax Support. For more information about this see GOV.UK calculators.
To apply for Council Tax Support see claiming benefits online. You can claim Housing Benefit on the same form at the same time.
Claiming Council Tax Support if you already get other benefits
You don’t need to make a new benefit claim if you want to claim Council Tax Support and either of the following apply:
- you already get Housing Benefit
- we have contacted you because the DWP have passed us your details from another welfare benefit claim so that we can check if you can get Council Tax Support
In either of these situations, all you need to do is fill in our declaration to claim Council Tax Support form to say you are happy for us to use the details we already have from your other welfare benefit claim. You will need your national insurance number. The form takes about 5 minutes. We will contact you if we need any extra information. To apply for Council Tax Support using the declaration form see claiming benefits online.
What happens after you apply
We normally make decisions within 10 working days of getting all the information we need.
If your claim is successful, you will get a new Council Tax bill showing the lower payments. You will be able to see the new bill as soon as we issue it if you have an online account – you can register for an account now if you haven’t done so already. We will post the bill if you don’t have an online account.
We will apply the reduction to your bill from the Monday after we get the form, unless we agree to backdate the claim. If you pay your Council Tax by direct debit, we will take the new amount automatically after giving you 14 days notice of what the new instalment payment will be.
If your claim is unsuccessful, we will either send you a letter or phone you to explain.
You must tell us about any changes that might affect your claim.
There is a process you can follow if you disagree with our decision.
If someone is helping you with your Council Tax Support claim
If someone is helping with your claim and you want us to share information with them, you need to let us know you are happy for us to do so. See authority to discuss.
Where people are unable to manage their own financial affairs, an appointee can handle their benefits claims for them.
Foreign nationals or returning UK nationals
Foreign nationals and UK nationals returning to the UK after living in another country may need to give us extra information so we can check eligibility for Council Tax Support.
European Economic Area nationals
If you are a European Economic Area (EEA) national, we may need you to fill in a person from abroad (PFA) form, habitual residency form or both. You can send us these when you apply to avoid delay, or you can wait to find out if we need them.
You can attach the documents to our forms.
Returning UK and Irish nationals
If you are a UK or Irish national returning to the UK after living in another country, we might ask you to fill in a habitual residency form. You can send us this when you apply to avoid delay, or you can wait to find out if we need it.
You can attach the documents to our forms.
People from the rest of the world
If you are not a UK, Irish or EEA national, we need to see letters from the UK Visas and Immigration Agency, the UK Border Agency or the Home Office showing us how you are able to live and work in the UK. We will need this before we can consider a claim for Council Tax Support.
You can attach the documents to our form
You cannot claim Council Tax Support if you are a sponsored immigrant.
How much Council Tax Support you might get
The amount of Council Tax Support you can get depends on your age, income and circumstances.
The maximum amount you can get is based on your net liability. Net liability is the amount due after taking off any other Council Tax reductions you get.
Maximum and minimum amounts of Council Tax Support for people of working age
The maximum amount you can get is 75%. Everyone of working age will be responsible to pay at least 25% of the annual Council Tax. The maximum will also be capped to a Band B property in your area, if you live in a higher banded property. Anyone of working age with capital of £6,000 and over will not qualify. The minimum award is still £2 per week. If you qualify for less than this you will not receive any support. For further information about how Council Tax Support is calculated for working age people see the information on how we work out Council Tax Support for a working age customer.
Maximum and minimum amounts of Council Tax Support for people of pension credit age
People of Pension Credit age can get Council Tax Support up to a maximum of 100% of their net liability. The minimum amount is 1p a week. For further information about how Council Tax Support is calculated for pensionable age people see the information on how we work out Council Tax Support for a pensionable age customer.
Backdating Council Tax Support claims
The arrangements for backdating Council Tax Support claims are different for working age people and people of Pension Credit age.
Backdating Council Tax Support for working age people
Council Tax Support can be backdated for working age people for up to one year from the date we get a written request to backdate, where there is a good reason for not claiming earlier. You will need to tell why you have been unable to make a claim earlier. You can do this when you fill in the Council Tax Support application form, by emailing the Benefits team, or by writing to us at one of the addresses on our contact page.
Backdating Council Tax Support for people of pension credit age
If you are Pension Credit age, we will automatically look at your circumstances for the 3 months before the date you apply for Council Tax Support. We will then backdate your claim for up to 3 months if you meet the qualifying criteria. This is called ‘take up’.
Council Tax Support and temporary absence
In some situations, you can keep claiming Council Tax Support if you have to live away from home for a while. See temporary absence.
You can also choose to pay your Council Tax over 12 instalments rather than 10, so each payment is smaller. To ask for this, contact the Council Tax team.
The Cheshire East Council Tax Support Regulations 2020-21 will be available on 1 April 2020.
For details of organisations who can give you advice about money matters and help you apply for benefits, see Live Well money matters .