Help with Council Tax
You may be able to get help with your Council Tax through a Council Tax discount, the Disability Reduction scheme, or through a Council Tax Reduction scheme managed by your local authority.
What is Council Tax?
Council Tax is a charge made by your local council to cover services that they provide for you. It applies to England, Scotland and Wales.
There is no council tax in Northern Ireland, which still has a system of rates.
The amount of Council Tax that you must pay varies from council to council, but all assessments are based on the property band that applies to your home.
Each dwelling in Great Britain is placed on a valuation list in 1 of 8 broad valuation bands (9 in Wales). The lowest is band A and the highest is band H (A to I in Wales). The band that applies to your home will be written on your Council Tax bill.
Some properties are exempt from Council Tax, including properties that are occupied solely by a person or people who are classed as ‘severely mentally impaired’. This applies to some people with Parkinson’s and dementia or other cognitive problems. You can read more about the ‘severe mental impairment’ classification in the next section. Contact your local council for a full list of Council Tax exemptions.
There are 3 types of help you can get with your Council Tax bill:
- the Council Tax Discount scheme
- the Disability Reduction scheme
- the Council Tax Reduction schemes
You can get help through all 3 schemes at the same time if you satisfy the conditions for each one.
Council Tax Reduction schemes
You may be eligible for Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Benefit) if you’re on a low income or claim certain benefits. There are different arrangements in England, Wales and Scotland.
England and Wales
Your local council is required to have a Council Tax Reduction scheme in place.
Each local council in England and Wales has a different scheme. Contact your local council to apply.
You can also visit the independent online resource counciltaxhelp to find details of the support schemes in your area.
The Scottish Government has set up a single system that replicates the old Council Tax Benefit system. Contact your local council to apply.
You may be able to get temporary discretionary payments if your local council thinks you need additional help with your Council Tax. Contact your local council for more information.
The Council Tax Discount scheme
You can get a discount of 25% off your bill if you are the only person living in your home or if all the other occupiers are ‘disregarded’ for Council Tax purposes.
You can get up to a 50% discount off your bill if you and all the other occupiers are disregarded, depending on the policy of your council.
People who are disregarded include:
- people who are considered to be ‘severely mentally impaired’ (see below for how this can apply to people with Parkinson's)
- some carers (can’t be a partner, must live in the same house and must provide care for at least 35 hours a week)
- people in a hospital, a care home, or certain kinds of hostel
- anyone whose ‘sole or main residence’ is elsewhere
- young people, students, student nurses, youth trainees, apprentices and certain other groups
For a full list, contact your local council. Your council may automatically grant a discount, but you can also apply for one.
Mental impairment and Parkinson's
The term ‘severely mentally impaired’ can apply to people with Parkinson’s who have a severe impairment of ‘intelligence and social functioning’, such as dementia.
You need a certificate from your doctor to prove this and you must be entitled to a disability or sickness benefit such as Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
The second adult rebate
A discount known as the ‘second adult rebate’ may also be available if you live with one other person and their income is low enough.
This only applies in Scotland, to people of all ages, and in England to people who are over pension age. It does not apply in Wales. Some English local authorities choose to offer the discount to people of working age too.
The discount is:
- 25% if the other person is on income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support
- 15% if the other person has a gross income under £193 a week
- 7.5% if the other person has a gross income between £193 and £249 a week
The Disability Reduction scheme
You can get a reduction on your bill if you or someone in your home is ‘substantially and permanently disabled’ and one of the following applies. You (or they):
- have an additional room (other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet) which is used to meet your needs (for example, a bedroom, or a room for treatment or storing equipment)
- have a second bathroom or kitchen used to meet your needs
- have enough space in your home to use a wheelchair indoors
If any of these apply, the bill for your home is reduced to the next lowest band. If you are already in a band A property, you will have your bill reduced by a sixth.
Disability reductions are available in all types of dwellings, including care homes and hostels. In Scotland, the council water charge can also be reduced under this scheme.
Contact your local council to apply for a disability reduction.
How can I appeal a decision?
You can appeal against decisions on:
- Council Tax exemptions
- Council Tax liability to pay
- where you are resident
- whether a Council Tax Discount applies
- whether a Disability Reduction applies
- Council Tax Reduction awards
- discretionary payment award decisions
You should first go to your local council. There is no time limit for lodging the appeal, but you should put your appeal in writing.
If it is refused, you can appeal to:
- the Valuation Tribunal for England within 2 months of receiving the decision, or within 4 months of your original appeal if your local council has not responded.
- the Valuation Tribunal for Wales within 2 months of receiving the decision, or within 4 months of your original appeal if your local council has not responded.
- the Valuation Appeal Committee in Scotland within 4 months of your original appeal.