The Council Tax Reduction scheme
The Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme helps people on low incomes and/or certain welfare benefits to pay their council tax bill. Some councils call it ‘council tax support’. CTR replaced the national council tax benefit scheme with effect from 1 April 2013.
This page explains more about what CTR is, what it covers, and who can claim it.
How do I apply for a Council Tax Reduction?
Each council in Wales has it’s own Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme. To get a CTR you need to apply to the council that issues your council tax bill. If the council accept your application, they’ll reduce your bill by a certain amount.
If you were already receiving the old council tax benefit and your circumstances have not changed, you should not need to apply for CTR as your existing claim should have been automatically transferred onto the new scheme.
Who can claim?
If you are liable to pay council tax, either as a homeowner or a tenant, and you live in the property as your main residence, you might be able to get a CTR. To be eligible you must:
- have a low income, or
- receive certain welfare benefits.
It is up to individual councils to decide who gets a reduction in their council tax bill and by how much. Different rules apply for different parts of Great Britain.
In Wales all councils will generally offer the same reductions. There may be a few slight differences and you may wish to check the rules of your council’s scheme to see exactly what you are entitled to. Most councils will not give you a reduction if your capital is over £16,000.
How much will my council tax be reduced by?
How much of a reduction you get will depend on your council’s own rules and your personal circumstances, for example your income and savings. Your reduction may not be for the full amount of your council tax charge. There may be a shortfall, which you will have to make up yourself.
Council tax exemptions for care leavers
In some areas of Wales you will be exempt from paying council tax if you are under 21 and a care leaver. In some areas, you may be exempt up to the age of 25.
The decision whether to exempt care leavers is up to each individual council so you will need to contact your local council (see below) to find out what happens in your area.
Even if care leavers are not exempt in your area, you may still apply for a CTR which would reduce the amount you have to pay.
Council tax reductions for pensioners
You’re counted as a pensioner for the purposes of CTR if:
- you have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit, and
- neither you or your partner are getting income-related state benefits – income support, income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or universal credit.
Any income and savings you have will be taken into account by the council when it works out your council tax reduction. But if you’re getting pension credit and qualify for the ‘guarantee credit’ part, you’ll automatically get the maximum available reduction from your council tax regardless of your savings and income.
Council’s have powers to provide extra support for pensioners by making a discretionary reduction off your council tax bill. If you need help asking for this then contact Citizen’s Advice.
When should I claim?
If you think that you might be entitled to a CTR then you should claim as soon as possible. If the council decide you are entitled to a reduction then it will be applied from the date you submitted your claim.
You may be able to get a CTR for a period before you made your application if you could have claimed earlier. Getting a reduction for a period before you apply is called ‘backdating’.
You can ask the council to backdate your claim, for a maximum of:
- 3 months, if you are of pension age (you do not have to give reason for asking for the backdate)
- 3 months, if you are of working age, provided your council has not extended or reduced this time limit. If you are of working age you must give a good reason, in writing, why you did not claim earlier.
I am going to claim, so can I stop paying my council tax?
No. Even if you get a full CTR, you will have to keep paying the water and sewerage charge.
If you can afford to, don’t stop paying your council tax charge unless you are confident that you will receive a full reduction. You may not be entitled to a full reduction, leaving you to make up the rest. If you just stop paying before your application is dealt with you could be left with huge council tax arrears.
If possible, try to find out approximately how much of a reduction you might be entitled to when you apply. If you rent your home from the council or a housing association, you should ask whether they have a welfare rights officer who should be able to help you.
If you need help with your claim contact Citizens Advice, your local council, or other local advice centre.
Where can I get more information?
To find details of your local council and what help they can provide, use this postcode search tool :
For more information and advice about eligibility take a look at the Citizens Advice pages.
What if I disagree with the council’s decision?
If you do not agree with the decision the council has made about your CTR, you should write to the council and tell them you want to appeal. You must do this within 1 month of the council’s decision. Explain what you disagree with, giving as much information as possible about why you think they are wrong. When the council receive your appeal letter, they should look at the decision again and respond to you within 2 months.
- the council does not respond to you within 2 months, or
- you are not happy with the council’s response
you can appeal for free to the Valuation Tribunal for Wales. An appeal must be submitted to the Tribunal within 2 months of the council’s response (or, if they haven’t yet responded, within 4 months of your original appeal letter to the council). In exceptional circumstances (for example illness or bereavement), the Tribunal may accept your appeal outside of these time limits.
For more details about how to appeal, including links to the appeal form and guidance notes, click here.