Council Tax Discounts and Reductions
We are currently undertaking a review of single person discounts. If you have received a letter and you need to fill in a review form, you can do it online here: Single person discount online form
The full Council Tax bill assumes that there are two adults living in a dwelling (as their main home). However, when calculating the number of adults resident in a dwelling certain people are not counted (please see next section "People Not counted for discount"). If only one adult lives in a dwelling, a 25% discount will apply and the Council Tax bill will be reduced by a quarter.
There are no discretionary discounts or exemptions that can be offered on empty domestic dwellings. This is because the Councils finances do not allow for these reductions to be made. The decision to remove these reductions was part of a wider budget decision made by the Borough Council on 7 March 2013. Some mandatory exemptions may still apply. Please see the 'council tax exemptions' section of this web page below for further information.
In cases where properties have been continuously empty for over 2 years the Council will apply an additional council tax charge. This will be called an 'Empty Property Premium'. The amount of the premium will be an additional 50% of the council tax liability. Therefore, properties that have been continuously empty for 2 or more years will incur a 150% council tax charge.
The Local Government Finance Act 2012 provides Local authorities with the power to change discounts and exemptions on empty properties and to charge a premium on long term empty homes.
Council Tax discounts and who they apply to:
- 25% discount may apply if only one eligible person lives in the property
- 50% discount may apply if all the occupiers of the property are eligible for discount
- If you live with someone in one of these categories you may be entitled to a discount
- Full-time students, student nurses, apprentices and youth training trainees
- People being looked after permanently in care homes, nursing homes or hospitals
- People who are severely mentally impaired
- People staying in certain hostels or night shelters
- 18 and 19 year olds who are at, or have just left school
- Care workers working for low pay, usually for charities
- People caring for those with a disability who is not a spouse, partner, or child under 18
- Members of visiting forces and certain international institutions
- Members of religious communities (monks and nuns)
- People in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of Council Tax or a fine)
The above groups are stated in broad terms. Within each of the groups, a number of conditions may need to be met before the disregard is satisfied. If you require further details about any of these groups, please contact the Council Tax Section.
How to appeal:
If you want to appeal against the Council's decision concerning a discount, you can contact us explaining what you object to and why. If your bill indicates that a discount has been allowed, you must inform the Council Tax Section of any change of circumstances that affects your entitlement. If you fail to do so, you may have to pay a penalty.
Disabled Persons Relief
If a disabled person lives in your household and special adaptations have been made to the property to help with that person's needs, relief may be available.
Examples of special adaptations include:
- a room provided to meet the special needs of the disabled person (e.g. for storing dialysis equipment)
- an extra bathroom or kitchen is provided for the person with the disability
- sufficient floor space to permit the use of a wheelchair required to meeting the needs of the disabled person.
This relief tries to ensure that disabled people are not disadvantaged by having to pay more tax because of extra space needed. Please note that the use of a private garage for a motor vehicle used by the disabled person is not one of the circumstances which qualify for a reduction.
If you qualify for Relief:
Your Council Tax bill will be reduced to that of a property in the band immediately below the band shown in the Valuation List. For example, if your home is in Band C, your Council Tax bill will be reduced to the equivalent of a Band B dwelling. This will not, however, affect the value of your home or its banding in the Valuation List.
If your home is in Band A, from 1st of April 2000 you may qualify for a reduction.
How to claim:
If you wish to claim Disabled Persons Relief please contact the Council Tax section on 01642 774774.
How to appeal:
If you disagree with the Council's decision about Disabled Person's Relief, you can contact us explaining what you object to and why.
If your bill indicates that Disabled Person's Relief has been allowed, you must inform the Council Tax Section of any change of circumstances that affects your entitlement. If you fail to do so, you may have to pay a penalty.
Council tax exemptions
Some dwellings are exempt from Council Tax. These include dwellings occupied wholly by students and most empty dwellings. There are several classes of exemption, some of which only apply for a specified length of time:
Unoccupied properties class description:
- Unoccupied dwellings owned and last used by a charity (exempt for up to 6 months)
- Dwellings left unoccupied by people in prison
- Dwellings left unoccupied by long-stay hospital patients and also by people who move permanently into a nursing home or residential home
- Dwellings left unoccupied by deceased persons where Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration has not been obtained, and for a period of 6 months after such grant has been obtained
- Dwellings where occupation is prohibited by law
- Dwellings held vacant for a minister of religion
- Dwellings left unoccupied by people receiving care
- Dwellings left unoccupied by people providing care
- Dwellings left unoccupied by students
- Unoccupied dwellings where the mortgage has repossessed
- Unoccupied dwellings in the possession of a trustee in bankruptcy
- A dwelling consisting of a Pitch or a Mooring which is not occupied by a caravan, or, as the case may be, a boat
- Dwellings forming part of another dwelling which cannot be let separately
Occupied properties class description:
- Students Halls of Residence
- Dwellings occupied wholly by students
- Armed Forces accommodation
- Visiting Forces accommodation
- Dwellings occupied only by a person or persons aged under 18
- Dwellings occupied only by a person or persons who is, or are, Severely Mentally Impaired
- Dwellings occupied by Diplomats, persons who have diplomatic immunity and certain members of their household
- Dwellings which form part of a single property and which are occupied by an elderly, severely mentally impaired or disabled relative of a person which lives in the other part of the property
The above classes are stated in broad terms. Within each of the classes, a number of conditions may need to be met before the exemption is satisfied. If you require further details about any of these classes, please contact the appropriate Council Tax Section.
Where a single property contains more than one self-contained unit, each of those units is treated as a separate dwelling for Council Tax purposes. A self-contained unit is defined as a building or part of a building which has been constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation. This includes structures such as those which are commonly termed Granny Annexes.
With effect from the 1st April 1997, legislation has been amended so that such units shall be exempt from Council Tax if they are occupied by elderly, severely mentally impaired or disabled members of the same family as live in the other part of the property. A new exemption Class W, as shown above, relates to this.
Properties only occupied by full time students will be exempt. There will be no Council Tax to pay.
In order to claim Exempt Dwelling Status for their property, students need to present an Exemption Certificate (available on request from the University / College) to the Council (see 'How to contact us
'). A certificate is required for each individual occupier before Exemption can be granted.
Students can be liable to pay Council Tax. This can happen if Students live with other people who are not Students.
If the non Student occupiers are Benefit claimants, then there can still be some Reduction in the bill. There could be 100% benefit, if the Benefits claimants are receiving Job Seekers Allowance. Each individual case will be assessed by the Council tax benefits section and the bills will be adjusted accordingly.
If the non Student occupier(s) are not Benefit claimants then there will be something to pay, although there could be a discount if there is only one non student occupier, as all of the students are not counted.
Students and non students alike who are joint tenants of a property are jointly and severally liable for any amount of Council Tax due to be paid for that property.
Who is a student?
A Student is: Any person taking a course at a prescribed educational establishment or institution (University, College etc.) and includes:
- A foreign language assistant
- A person on a full time course
- A person under 20 years of age on a part-time qualifying course of education
- A Project 2000 nurse
What if the student has a break in their studies?
For example, leave of absence due to ill health etc, as long as they remain enrolled with the establishment and intend to return to their studies they would continue to be considered as a student for Council Tax purposes. Evidence of the break in studying would be required to allow this.
Overseas students and their spouses:
Students who have partners who are not Students would normally be treated in the same way as any two co-occupiers of a property (see above). An exception to this are Students who have a spouse or dependent who is not a British citizen, and who is prevented by the terms of their entry visa to the United Kingdom, from taking paid employment or from claiming benefits. In this case the spouse would be treated as the student was, subject to receipt of the appropriate documentation from the University/College.
How to claim:
If you wish to claim exemption please contact the Council Tax Section.
How to appeal:
If you disagree with the Council's decision about an exemption, you can contact us explaining what you object to and why. If your bill indicates that an exemption has been allowed, you must inform the Council Tax Section of any change of circumstances that affects your entitlement. If you fail to do so, you may have to pay a penalty.