Monday 8 February 2016
I am struggling to pay my council tax bill. What help is available?
Council Tax Reduction – also known as Council Tax Support – is a reduction you may be able to get on your council tax if you’re on a low income
We have seen a 28% increase in the number of enquiries about support with council tax payments in the last year. Local authorities in England are responsible for running their own local schemes for help with council tax. These are called Council Tax Reduction schemes. You can no longer make a claim for Council Tax Benefit.
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 Council Tax Reduction, 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 the Council Tax Reduction scheme.
Everyone of working age has to pay something towards their council tax bill, with few exceptions. 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
If you receive Council Tax Support, you are of working age and you are in a vulnerable financial situation you may be able to receive short-term assistance from the Council Tax Support – Exceptional Hardship Fund (EHF)
Check the local authority website – www.exeter.gov.uk – for more details of the Council Tax Support scheme and how to apply for EHF.
For more information and advice go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk or telephone Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau on 03444 111 444.
Look out for our column next week when we focus on self-employment.
The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk