Money Wellness
Image of a pile of coins getting higher with monopoly houses on top saying A, B, C, D. Thousands of people exempt from paying council tax or due a discount - find out how to make a saving here
calendar icon08 Apr 2024

With bills rising last week - find out how to make savings on your council tax

Above inflation council tax hikes came into effect for households across England and Wales last week, adding around £100 to a typical band D bill.

The rises come at a time when households are facing more financial pressures that ever before.

We’re seeing an increasing number of households unable to keep on top of council tax bills, with around 47% of the people we help each month in debt to their local authority.

But millions could be due a discount on their council tax - with savings from 25% - or be completely exempt from paying anything.

Councils won’t inform you if you’re liable for savings – you have to apply for the discount yourself.

Here’s a list of all the people who could be due a reduction or might not have to pay anything at all:

Students and under 18s

Anyone under the age of 18, students, those in full time education or on apprenticeships are exempt from paying council tax.

Low-income households

If you’re on a low income, you might be able to reduce your council tax by up to 100%.

Each council has different eligibility criteria, so how much you’ll save – if anything - will depend on your local authority. In general, they’ll base your discount on your income, if you have savings and whether you live alone or with a partner.

Help for hardship

The cost-of-living crisis has left thousands facing hardship. If you’re struggling for reasons outside of your control, such as losing your job or becoming ill, you might qualify for hardship relief to temporarily reduce your council tax until you get back on your feet.

Pay less if you’re single

Council tax assumes that two adults live in a property. If you’re living on your own, let your council know. You could be entitled to a single person’s discount, reducing your bill by 25%.

Pensioners

Pensioners who receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit might not have to pay council tax. And any pensioners on a low income, with less than £16,000 in savings, might be liable for a 50% discount.

Career choices

The job you chose could also lead to savings, with monks, nuns, student nurses, carers working for low pay, visiting members of the armed forces, or people with diplomatic privileges and immunities all being eligible for discounts.  

Prisoners

People on remand or in prison do not have to pay council tax on their unoccupied home. If someone you live with is currently detained, you might be able to get a discount on your council tax payments.

Modified disability homes

Your council tax might be reduced if your home has been modified for a disabled person who lives there, such as specially adapted bathrooms and kitchens or space for wheelchair usage. Any houses eligible will get a one-band reduction.

Ukrainian nationals

Anyone housing a Ukrainian national under the Homes for Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme (HUS) could get a 50% discount.

Challenge council tax bands

If you feel you’re paying too much council tax as your home has been put in the wrong band, you could be due a reduction and a refund. You’ll need to provide supporting evidence to support this claim, such as details of similar properties in low tax bands.

Get overpayments refunded

Some people might have overpaid on their council tax because they moved out before the year’s end or forgot to cancel a direct debit.  A handful of councils will automatically refund the overpayment, but many will not. If this is the case, contact your local authority to chase what you’re owed.

Get free debt help

Council tax is a priority bill, meaning the consequences of falling behind on payments are serious - your council can send bailiffs to seize property to recoup the debt. If you owe money to your council, contact them straight away to agree a payment plan, or seek free debt support.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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