If you’re on a low income, you may be able to get help to pay your council tax bill through the council tax support scheme.
The scheme, which is means tested, replaced the old council tax benefit scheme abolished by the government in 2013.
Who can claim
You can claim council tax support whether you live in rented property or in your own home.
It doesn’t matter if you’re out of work, if you receive a pension or if you’re in work and earning a wage – you can still claim.
Council tax support is means tested. To determine whether you qualify for support, and how much you get, we look at a number of things, including your income and savings, your circumstances, and the number of people living with you.
You can’t claim council tax support if you’ve got over £16,000 in savings, unless you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.
How to apply
Before applying for council tax support, use our calculator to see if you qualify and how much you might be entitled to.
Once you’ve used the calculator to work out if you qualify, fill in a housing benefit and council tax support application form. The information you put into the calculator will be automatically saved into your claim form, so you won’t need to type that in again.
You’ll need to have the following information available:
- details of the income and benefits received by each person in your home (if you don’t have payslips, or you’ve recently changed jobs, ask your employer to fill in our online certificate of earnings form)
- the total balances for all your accounts (including any savings, post office or current accounts), for you and your partner
- the amount of council tax you’re charged a year
- if you’re self-employed, please fill in our self-employed earnings form
- if you’ve returned to live in the UK within the last two years, you must fill in our habitual residence form to prove that you’re entitled to make a claim for benefit
- if you or your partner, or any children you’re claiming for, own another property or land, either in the UK or abroad, you’ll need to fill in our online property and land valuation form
If you want to claim housing benefit as well as council tax support, use the same form.
Sending your evidence
At the end of the application form, it will tell you what evidence we need to support your claim and if we need original documents or copies. If you need to provide original documents, please contact us to make an appointment to see an advisor in one of our local offices. Copy documents can be uploaded using the evidence attachment form. You’ll have one calendar month from the date you've applied to provide your evidence.
Once we receive your information, we’ll work out how much you’re entitled to and contact you to let you know. This usually takes up to ten working days.
Acting as an appointee
If you have the authority to deal with a person’s financial affairs, you need to fill in our form to request to be their appointee for housing benefit or council tax.
How we pay your council tax support
We’ll take the support we’ve awarded you straight off your council tax bill and send you a new bill showing your new payment plan.
Your support will usually start on the Monday after we receive your application or the day you told us you wanted to make a claim.
In some instances, we can backdate your claim.
If you think we’ve made a mistake with your claim, you can appeal against your council tax and housing benefit support decision.
Sign up to MyBentax to view your council tax details online, our short video below shows you how to set up an account.
What you contribute to council tax support
The minimum contribution for working age claimants recently increased from 15% to 30% due to a reduction by government to local council budgets. (See Council Tax Support Scheme Policy)
To offset the effects of this change in contribution for people experiencing extreme financial hardship, we'll be making protection available through the local welfare assistance scheme and the council tax discretionary relief scheme.
If you're experiencing exceptional financial hardship, you can apply for council tax discretionary relief.
Change of circumstances
Tell us straight away if your circumstances change by filling in the council tax change of circumstances form.
If you need more information, see our change in circumstances page.