Find out if you can get a discount or exemption for your Council Tax
Understanding Council Tax
Council Tax is collected by your council each year to pay for essential local services such as social care, rubbish collection, road repairs and community services. How much you pay depends on the value of your home and the people living in it. You may be eligible for help to reduce your bill.
Can I get help with my Council Tax?
Many people are entitled to discounts on their Council Tax bill including many carers. Our information aims to shed light on whether you can benefit from a discount or reduction, or even a full exemption. If you don’t live with the person you care for, it is worth exploring if they can get reductions on their bill as well.
You may be surprised by how many ways there are to reduce your Council Tax bill. Not everyone has to pay the full amount, and some people don’t have to pay anything at all.
If you in Northern Ireland, this won’t apply but you could see if you can apply for any rate relief.
Frequently asked questions
If you own or rent your home, you’ll usually be responsible for paying the Council Tax bill. Properties are put in valuation bands depending on their value. The higher the band, the more you’ll have to pay each year.
However, some homes and groups of people can be exempt from Council Tax. You may also be eligible for a discount on the bill, depending on your circumstances. If you’re on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction.
Your home could be exempt from Council Tax – meaning you won’t have to pay anything – depending on who lives there. Your home will be exempt if:
- it’s empty and no longer your sole or main residence because you are providing personal care for someone because of their old age, health or disability.
- it’s empty because the former resident has moved into a care home, hospital, or relative or friend’s home to receive care.
- the only people living there are severely mentally impaired. This could be because of dementia or a severe learning difficulty for example.
- there is a self-contained annexe with a relative living there who is dependent on you for care. They must be 65 or over and disabled. Only the annexe will be exempt from Council Tax.
There are other reasons why your home may be exempt. Contact your local council for more details.
There are various ways you can get a discount on your bill.
- If you live alone, or with people who aren’t counted for Council Tax purposes, you may be eligible for a 25% or even 50% reduction on the bill (see section below).
- If your home has been adapted because someone with a disability lives there, you may be eligible for the Disability Reduction scheme (see section below).
- If you’re on a low income, you may be eligible for Council Tax Reduction/Support (see section below). If eligible, you can get a reduction alongside any applicable discounts.
- If you live with someone on a low income who isn’t your partner, you may be eligible for Second Adult Rebate (see section below).
The Council Tax bill assumes that there are two or more adults living in a household and as such 100% of the Council Tax bill is usually payable.
If you live alone, you’re normally entitled to a 25% reduction on your Council Tax bill. You may be eligible for this even if you live with other people as not everyone is counted for Council Tax purposes. This includes children, live-in care workers, people who are assessed as being severely mentally impaired, and some carers.
If you’re a carer, you won’t be counted for Council Tax purposes if all the following apply:
- you provide at least 35 hours of care a week
- you live with the person you care for
- you’re not the spouse or partner of the person you care for, or their parent if they’re under 18
- the person you care for receives certain disability benefits.
If, after taking into account people who aren’t counted, only one person is eligible for Council Tax, there may be a 25% discount on the bill. If no one is eligible for Council Tax, there may be a 50% reduction. Contact your local council directly to apply for a discount.
James spends 35 hours a week looking after his 23-year-old son, Adam, who receives the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment and is ‘severely mentally impaired’.
James shouldn’t be counted as a carer and Adam shouldn’t be counted as he has been assessed as being ‘severely mentally impaired’ for Council Tax purposes.
James’s mother Jenny also lives in the house but does not look after Adam.
Therefore only one person – Jenny – would be considered to be living in the property, and as such the Council Tax bill could be reduced by 25%.
Fred and Shelima live with their 15-year-old son, Bobby, and Shelima’s mother, Priya.
Priya has dementia and receives the higher rate of Attendance Allowance – she has been assessed as being ‘severely mentally impaired’.
Shelima cares for Priya for at least 35 hours a week. Fred also cares for Priya for at least 35 hours a week (during weekends and before and after his paid work).
As carers, Fred and Shelima should both not be counted. Priya can also be disregarded as she is classed as ‘severely mentally impaired’. Bobby should not be counted as he is under 18 years old. Overall, no one in the property would be counted as living there and so a 50% discount would be applied to the bill.
If your home has been adapted or has features that are needed because someone with a disability lives there, you could get a reduction on the Council Tax bill. For example, this could be because you have an extra bathroom or kitchen, or extra space to use a wheelchair indoors. If your home is eligible, your Council Tax will be reduced to the band below, or by one-sixth if you’re in the lowest band.
There’s no set test to decide who’s eligible for this, so contact your local council to find out more if you think you qualify. Look up your local council. They may ask you for a letter from your GP.
You may be entitled to further help from your council towards paying your Council Tax. You will need to check the rules of your local authority's scheme to see what you are entitled to.
In most cases you will have to pay something towards your Council Tax bill, but you may be entitled to a discount. See our factsheet for more detailed information or contact your local contact using our local directory.
If you live in Northern Ireland and have a low income, you may be able to get financial support with paying your rates. See this ni.direct.gov.uk page to find out what the criteria is and how you can apply for help if eligible.
If you live with someone who is on a low income and isn’t your partner, you may be eligible for a discount on your bill called Second Adult Rebate. You can’t get this at the same time as Council Tax Reduction, but your local council should automatically consider whether you’d be better off getting Second Adult Rebate.
In Wales, this isn’t called Second Adult Rebate but you may still be able to get a discount. Check with your local council for more details.
Contact your council as soon as possible to let them know. Councils can take legal action for payment, but most will try to find other solutions first if you talk to them.
For example, they may agree to spread your payments over 12 months instead of the usual 10 so the amount of each bill is reduced. Or they could arrange a manageable repayment plan for any arrears you may have. You may be eligible for a discount and it would be worth having a benefit check to see if you are entitled to Council Tax Reduction/Support or any other benefits. You can contact us for guidance on arranging a benefit check: firstname.lastname@example.org
You could talk to your local Citizens Advice, or a non-profit money advice agency for help with Council Tax. They may be able to help you assess your finances, assist with form filling, or help with any challenges such as appeal tribunal hearings. Many councils will also have their own welfare rights department or know local organisations who can help.
If you’re claiming Housing Benefit but still can’t pay your rent, you can apply to your local council for extra money in the form of a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Your council will decide whether to award you a DHP, including how much it will be and for how long based on your circumstances.
You don’t have to repay a DHP. They can also be used to pay deposits or rent in advance if you have to move.
To apply for a DHP in England, Wales or Scotland, contact your local council. In Northern Ireland, contact your local Housing Executive office.
Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits you’re eligible for too. Contact Carers UK for a benefits check.
There are particular steps you can take if you want to challenge a decision about your Council Tax. In the first instance, you should contact your local council and preferably explain in writing why you think the decision is wrong. For details of the steps to follow, see this section of the GOV.UK website: gov.uk/council-tax-appeals
Our free downloadable factsheet contains more detailed information about what help you can get with Council Tax.
You can also find useful further guidance on the GOV.UK website here: www.gov.uk/council-tax