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Council Tax Reduction - what you need to know

This advice applies to England

If you're on a low income, you may be entitled to help from your council towards paying your council tax.

Since 1 April 2013, local authorities in England have been responsible for running their own local schemes for help with council tax. These are called Council Tax Reduction schemes. They are also sometimes known as Council Tax Support.

You can no longer make a claim for Council Tax Benefit.

Read this page to get some key facts about Council Tax Reduction.

What is Council Tax Reduction?

Depending on where you live, Council Tax Reduction (CTR) may be:

  • a discount worked out as a percentage of your council tax bill
  • a discount of an amount set out in the scheme
  • a discount equal to the whole amount of the council tax bill - so that the amount payable is nil.

If you're of working age

Because each local authority has its own local scheme, there will be differences between schemes.

You will need to check the rules of your local authority's scheme to see what you are entitled to. It's likely that you will have to pay something towards your council tax bill – even if you were getting full Council Tax Benefit before 1 April 2013.

The government has said that when deciding on its scheme, a local authority should take into account the needs of vulnerable people and support work incentives.

When are you of working age?

You're of working age if you're under the age for getting Pension Credit.

If you're a woman, the age you can get Pension Credit is the same as your state pension age.

If you're a man, the age you can get Pension Credit might be different from your state pension age.

  • The GOV.UK website has an online calculator which tells you when you can get Pension Credit, available at

If you're a pensioner

If you're a pensioner, the government says you should still be able to get the same level of Council Tax Reduction as you would have done if you were getting Council Tax Benefit.

This means that if your income is less than an amount the government says you need to live on you will be entitled to maximum Council Tax Reduction.

If you get the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit, your income and capital are ignored and you will get full Council Tax Reduction.

When working out your entitlement to CTR, the way some things are dealt with will be the same for all pensioners, regardless of where you live. This includes:

  • the way your income and capital are worked out
  • the way your applicable amount is worked out. This is the amount the government says you need to live on
  • the way non-dependant deductions are worked out
  • the way temporary absences from home are dealt with.

All pensioners must also be allowed to apply for a second adult rebate under their Council Tax Reduction scheme.

When are you a pensioner?

For you to be treated as a pensioner when you claim CTR, you must meet both the following conditions:

  • you must have reached the age for getting Pension Credit
  • neither you nor your partner must be getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.
  • The GOV.UK website has an online calculator which tells you when you can get Pension Credit, available at

If you’re not from the UK

Advising on Council Tax Reduction and immigration status

Generalist advisers can help clients with Council Tax Reduction issues related to their immigration status - this topic isn’t regulated by the OISC. Check what immigration advice is regulated by the OISC

If you’re from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein and want to apply for CTR, you need to show:

  • you have settled status or a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’
  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’

Your right to reside depends on things like your work, family and personal situation. You can check if you have a right to reside.

To stay in the UK after 30 June 2021 you need to apply for ‘settled status’ or ‘pre-settled status’. It’s best to apply as soon as you can.

Your CTR will stop if you don’t have settled status or pre-settled status by 30 June 2021.

You can apply for:

  • settled status if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years or more

  • pre-settled status if you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years – and were living here by 31 December 2020 

Your family members might also be able to apply – even if they arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020.

Check how to apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Find out more about staying in the UK after Brexit.

If you’re not from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein you can only claim CTR if you’re not subject to immigration control.

Other things which must be part of a CTR scheme

Every CTR scheme must contain certain things. This includes:

  • rules about how to apply for CTR
  • how applications are decided
  • when you need to notify the local authority of a change of circumstance
  • arrangements for backdating benefit
  • extended reductions in certain circumstances.

Default CTR scheme

Some local authorities might use a default CTR scheme set in place by the government.

Under the default scheme, if your income is less than the amount the government says you need to live on (called the applicable amount) you will get maximum CTR. This applies regardless of whether you are a pensioner or someone of working age.

If your income is more than the applicable amount, you may still get CTR but you won't get the full reduction. The local authority will calculate 20 per cent of the difference between your income and the applicable amount. This will be deducted from the maximum Council Tax Reduction to give you your Council Tax Reduction.


The government says the amount you need to live on is £100 a week (your applicable amount)

You have income of £150 a week

The difference between £100 and £150 = £50

20 % of £50 = £10

You will have to pay £10 towards your council tax a week.


You can appeal against a decision about CTR. You can do this through a Valuation Tribunal, but first you must have asked your local council to look at their decision again. If the council refuses to change its decision, or has not replied to you within two months, you can appeal to the Tribunal.

You have two months to appeal to the Tribunal after the council has given you its final written decision. If you have not received a reply within two months, you can still appeal to the Tribunal if no more than four months have passed since you wrote to the council about the problem with your bill.

Information about how to appeal is on the Valuation Tribunal's website


If you have a complaint about the way in which your local council has dealt with your CTR claim you may be able to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman, but only if you have used the council's own complaints procedure first.

A complaint might be about undue delays in dealing with a claim or about a delay in applying the reduction to your council tax account after your claim has been decided.

The Local Government Ombudsman has a factsheet about complaints about CTR claims.

Discretionary help with your council tax

Even if you are not entitled to full CTR under your local authority's scheme, your authority still has the power to reduce your council tax bill further or to cancel it altogether. Your local authority will normally only do this if you can show that you are suffering exceptional hardship, possibility because of illness, disability or other difficult circumstances. If you are in this situation you should ask your local authority for help and be prepared to provide evidence of your circumstances.

If your local authority refuses to provide further help you may be able to appeal to a Valuation Tribunal. The Tribunal has power to order an authority to reduce, or even cancel, your council bill. Information about how to appeal is available on the Valuation Tribunal's website at

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