Council tax – what support is out there and where to find it
Millions of households are expected to face an increase in their council tax bill from April.
As reported by the BBC, the County Councils Network (CCN) found three-quarters of English councils with social care duties that have published budget details are planning a 5% hike.
This is the maximum allowed without a local vote and would add £100 a year to bills for average Band D properties.
At PayPlan, we offer more than just debt advice and our Council Tax explainer is here to help you potentially save money and understand exactly what you’re paying for.
What is council tax?
Council Tax is a system of local taxation collected by local authorities (your local council, which can be found by entering your postcode). It helps pay for services we rely on like roads, schools, public transport, waste disposal and libraries.
Ultimately, it’s a tax on domestic property for those aged 18+ and is billed whether you own or rent the home. Some property is exempt from council tax. Some people don’t have to pay council tax and some people get a discount.
What support can you get?
Council tax is one of those essential costs that feature in everyone’s monthly budget. It’s a priority to make sure this is paid. But, if you’re struggling with footing this regular bill, it’s important to check whether you could be receiving some extra support.
You might be able to get discounts in certain circumstances, for example, if you’re caring for someone, if you’re disabled or have a health condition, if you’re looking for work, temporarily unable to work or on a low income, if you’re a single person or if you have an empty property.
Can you get Single Person Discount?
If you’re the only adult living in your property, you can apply for a Single Person Discount to reduce your Council Tax bill by 25%.
Can you get an exception or discount?
You could get 50% off your bill, depending on your household.
Are you in the correct Council Tax band?
Your Council Tax band is based on its rateable value – which means the more expensive the property, the higher the Council Tax band. If you feel you’re being wrongly charged, you’ll be asked for evidence that supports your challenge.
Consider which payment options are best for you
You can choose to spread your payments over 12 months (instead of the usual ten) to reduce the amount you have to pay monthly.
If you’re on a low income
If you’re on a low income, then you may be able to get help paying for your council tax. You’ll need to apply for a scheme run by your local council.
Check if you’re entitled to a Council Tax rebate
If you pay for your council tax via direct debit, and your household falls within bands A-D, you could receive a £150 council tax rebate to help you manage your living costs. Most people have received their rebate, but if you haven’t you should contact your local council. If you don’t pay by direct debit, you should be contacted by your council and invited to make a claim that way.
Help if you’re struggling with arrears
All local authorities must have a Section 13A scheme through which any person can make a request for an amount of council tax to be reduced or written off. Contact your local council to find out if you meet the criteria.
You can find out more about council tax support by visiting BudgetSmart, our new interactive tool.