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Council Tax Reduction: Are you entitled?

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Council Tax Benefit has been replaced

There are many changes coming into play in the benefits system at the moment, and Council Tax hasn’t escaped. If you previously claimed Council Tax Benefit, then since the 1st of April this year, that has now changed to Council Tax reduction. You can apply for council tax reduction whether you rent, own your home, are working or unemployed and it is designed to assist those on low incomes to help with their council tax bill.

Are you entitled to claim?

Many people on a low income are entitled to a reduction of up to 100%, but like with many benefits, various factors are taken into consideration when determining if and what you may be entitled to. Every council will run its own scheme with its own set of rules and guidelines and they will take into account your family income, including benefits you are receiving and the amount of children you may have, savings and investments and whether any other adults are living with you. Whether you are working or not, the council will compare your income to the amount the government sets as a guideline to live on, and then decide if you are entitled to a reduction, how much that will be.

Can you claim council tax reduction for your household?

Even though local councils can set their own rules on council tax reduction, the government have specified guidelines for calculating it for pensioners and this depends on whether you receive either guaranteed or savings pension’s credits. If you’re a pensioner and qualify for guaranteed pension credit, you are entitled to 100% reduction in your council tax regardless of income and capital, but the council will take into consideration if you have another adult living in the house with you and so the reduction may be less. For pensioners only receiving the savings element of the pension credit, the council will then look at your income and capital to work out if and how much reduction in council tax you are entitled to. If you have savings or capital (other property or land) worth more than £16,000 you will not be entitled to any council tax reduction.

How do you make a Council Tax Reduction claim?

If you believe you qualify, then you can apply either in writing or by completing a form from your local council. Alternatively, you can see if they accept online or telephone applications. Once you have made your application, you will have to provide evidence to support your claim such as your income, savings and other benefit entitlement, and give that to the local council as soon as possible. They will then review your application and make a decision based on its guidelines and your personal circumstances. They must notify you of their decision in writing within 14 days.

You can appeal if your application is rejected

If they reject your application, you are entitled to an explanation as to why and may also appeal against their decision as well. You should firstly write to them to disagree with their decision and your reasons why. They then should write back within 2 months advising if they are prepared to change their mind. If they aren’t but you feel the council have either not applied the appropriate rules, miscalculated the amount or they simply did not respond to your letter of disagreement, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

Make your council aware of changes if your circumstances change

Like with most benefits, if your situation in your family or financial life changes in any way, you should inform the local council as soon as possible so they can renew your council tax reduction and check you are still entitled to it or that it should either increase or decrease. Everyone has differing circumstances so if in doubt, feel free to check with your local council for further information.

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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