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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Council Tax Support?

Council Tax Support is means-tested award that helps people on low incomes pay their Council Tax bill. It is administered by local councils using rules set locally. Claimants have their Council Tax bill reduced by the amount of their benefit.

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Who can claim Council Tax Support?

Anyone who has a bill to pay Council Tax for the home they live in can apply for Council Tax Support at that property.

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Why did Council Tax Benefit stop?

The Government stated that the welfare system was unsustainable and changes were needed to make it affordable in the future. In its emergency budget statement on 22nd June 2010 and the Comprehensive Spending Review statement published 20th October 2010, the Government announced a package of reforms to change the system.

The reforms included the introduction of a new all-encompassing benefit for working age people called Universal Credit. This will replace most of the benefits and tax credits currently in operation to support working age individuals, couples and families who are out of work or on low earnings. The Welfare Reform Act 2012 also contained provision for the abolition of Council Tax Benefit and the Local Government Finance Bill proposed that local councils should construct their own schemes to manage support for Council Tax. 

The Government believes this gives councils greater control over their local priorities, increased financial autonomy and a greater stake in the economic future of their local area. It also contributes to the national programme for deficit reduction and is part of the Government's wider agenda to enable stronger, balanced economic growth across the country.

In line with the Government’s objective to ‘make work pay’, the changes to Council Tax Benefit would also support positive work incentives to help get the unemployed back into work.

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Who did the changes affect?

All working age people who were claiming Council Tax Benefit were affected by these changes and might have seen their benefit change. However, the Government has made it clear that some protection should be given to the most vulnerable in the community.

The Government has also recognised that low-income pensioners who were eligible for Council Tax Benefit cannot be expected to increase their income through paid work and therefore are to be protected from this reform.

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What is the definition of a pensioner?

For the purposes of localised Council Tax Support schemes a pensioner is someone who has reached the qualifying age for state Pension Credit. The qualifying age for state Pension Credit will be taken as the pensionable age for women - currently just over 62.  Currently in the case of a couple, one member of the couple needs to be of this age or older in order to be deemed a pensioner couple.

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Did the 25 per cent Single Persons Discount change?

No, the changes have not affected the 25 per cent Single Persons Discount.

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How much will I have to pay towards my Council Tax?

Pensioners will continue to receive a similar level of help with Council Tax Support as they received through Council Tax Benefit. From 1st April 2015, if you or your partner are of working age, when calculating Council Tax Support your eligible Council Tax liability for Council Tax Support will be the lower of:

86% of the council tax charge for your property after any discounts or reductions that you are entitled to; or

86% of the council tax charge for a band C property after any discounts or reductions that you are entitled to.

Where the claimant or partner is in receipt of any of the following, Council Tax Support will be calculated on 100% of the eligible council tax charge –

  • War Disablement Pension

  • War Widows Pension

  • War Widows Disablement Pension

  • Disability Premium

  • Enhanced Disability Premium

  • Severe Disability Premium

  • Disabled Child Premium

  • Carer Premium or

  • Support Component within their Employment and Support Allowance

Therefore there will be a minimum contribution of 14% of your council tax charge if you are working age.

Second Adult Reduction is not payable to working age claimants, it is only payable where the claimant is State Pension Credit Age.

For working age claimants where an amount of Council Tax Support is calculated and it is less than 50 pence per week, no amount will be granted by the Local Authority.

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