Council tax reduction | CPAG

Council tax reduction

Date: 
18 February 2019

Council tax reduction can reduce the amount of your council tax bill if you and your partner (or another adult who lives with you) have a low income. You have to apply to your local council to get it.

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In addition to council tax reduction, there may other ways to reduce your council tax bill. If you might be eligible you should apply even if you also get council tax reduction. Read more about other ways to reduce your council tax.

Who can get council tax reduction

To get council tax reduction you must:

  • be liable for council tax
  • have your normal home in Scotland and meet the other residence tests – read more about the residence requirements
  • either be getting a ’qualifying benefit’, or not have too much income or savings.
How much is council tax reduction

Normally, you cannot get council tax reduction if you (and your partner) have savings over £16,000. This includes things like investments and the value of property you own but don’t live in. There are two exceptions:

  • if you get the guarantee credit part of pension credit, all of your savings are ignored;
  • if you live with an adult who is not your partner, you may be able to get a ‘second adult rebate’ if their income is low, even if you have savings over this amount. Read more about the second adult rebate.

To get council tax reduction you must also have a low income. This includes the income of your partner if you have one, but not your children or anyone else who lives with you.

Unless you live with an adult other than your spouse or partner, the maximum amount of council tax reduction you can get is 100 per cent of your council tax bill. You will still have to pay some charges for water and sewage, even if you get the maximum council tax reduction.

If you live with another adult, your maximum council tax reduction may be reduced, or in some circumstances council tax reduction may be based on their income instead of yours. Read more about the rules if you live with another adult.

If you get a ‘passporting benefit’ you automatically get your maximum council tax reduction. The passporting benefits are:

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • guarantee credit of pension credit.

If you do not get one of these benefits, the amount you get depends on what income you have. Your income is compared with an ‘applicable amount’, which is an amount for basic needs and depends on your circumstances, including who lives with you as part of your family (your partner and any children under 20 who are still at school). There are additional amounts if you or a member of your family is disabled or a carer. If your income is above this applicable amount, your maximum council tax reduction is reduced by 20 per cent of the excess income.

The calculation works differently if you get universal credit. It normally depends on the details that the local authority gets from the Department for Work and Pensions about your income and your universal credit calculation.

The amount of council tax reduction varies based on your individual circumstances, so there is no set income above which you cannot get council tax reduction. There are several online benefit calculators that you can use to check how much council tax reduction you may be entitled to. You can find a list of online benefit calculators on gov.uk.

If you need more help, you can get advice from an advice agency.

If you are unhappy with the decision about the amount of your council tax reduction you may be able to challenge it. Read more about challenging council tax reduction decisions.

How to apply for council tax reduction

Each local authority decides how you can apply for council tax reduction. If you are also applying for other benefits, sometimes this is also treated as an application for council tax reduction.

  • If you apply for housing benefit to help with your rent using a form from your local authority, most local authorities use this form as an application for council tax reduction as well.
  • If you apply for universal credit, some local authorities treat this as an application for council tax reduction.

It is very important to contact your local authority and check that you have applied, if you are unsure.

Find out more about how to contact your local authority on mygov.scot.

Sometimes your council tax reduction can be ‘backdated’ to before the date that you claimed it. Find out more about when your council tax reduction starts.

If you disagree with a decision about council tax reduction, you can request a review of it. There is a strict time limit to do so. Find out more about challenging council tax reduction decisions.

Once you get council tax reduction, the amount you get can change if your income or other circumstances change. Find out what to do if your circumstances change.