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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Council Tax Benefit

If you’re on a low income, whether you're working or not, and need financial help to pay your Council Tax bill, you may be able to get Council Tax Benefit. Find out more, including who is eligible and information about the Second Adult Rebate.

Who is eligible?

To get an estimate of benefits that you may get (whether you're working or not), including Council Tax Benefit, use the online benefits adviser.

Council Tax Benefit

You may get Council Tax Benefit if you pay Council Tax and your income and capital (savings and investments) are below a certain level. You may apply whether you rent or own your home, or live rent-free. You could qualify if you are out of work, or in work and earning a wage.

Second Adult Rebate

You may get Second Adult Rebate if the person you share your home with is:

  • not your partner or civil partner
  • aged 18 or over
  • not paying you rent
  • not paying Council Tax themselves
  • on a low income

You may be able to get Second Adult Rebate even if you don't receive Council Tax Benefit. If you're either:

  • not entitled to Council Tax Benefit
  • only entitled to benefit which would cover 25 per cent or less of your Council Tax

Your local authority should automatically check if you're entitled to a Second Adult Rebate.

Who isn't eligible?

If you have savings of over £16,000 you can't normally get Council Tax Benefit, unless you're getting the 'guarantee credit' of Pension Credit.

Your income and savings won't affect Second Adult Rebate. Second Adult Rebate is based on the other person's circumstances.

Most asylum seekers and people sponsored to be in the UK won't get Council Tax Benefit.

How to check eligibility

If you think you may be eligible for Council Tax Benefit, the link below will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.

Important changes for people receiving Child Benefit

Child Benefit is no longer counted as income when working out how much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit you can get.

This means that some people currently receiving Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit payments will receive more benefit with which to pay their rent and council tax.

In addition, some low income families may now get Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit as a result of this change. If you think you may now be entitled, contact your local council.

How much do you get?

To work out your Council Tax Benefit, your local council will look at:

  • money you and your partner or civil partner have coming in, including earnings, some benefits and tax credits and things like occupational pensions
  • your savings and your partner's or civil partner's savings
  • your circumstances: for example your age, the size of your family and their ages, if you or any of your family are disabled, and if anyone who lives with you could help with the rent

The most Council Tax Benefit you can get is 100 per cent reduction on your bill.

If you're entitled to Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or the 'guarantee credit' of Pension Credit you could get maximum help with your Council Tax.

Second Adult Rebate

Reason for Council Tax reduction

 Percentage of reduction

Rebate for second adults on Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Pension Credit 25%
If the second adult's gross weekly income is less than £177.00 15%
If the second adult's gross weekly income is between £177.00 to £230.99 7.5%

If you're entitled to both Council Tax Benefit and Second Adult Rebate you'll get the one that gives you most money.

How it's paid

Council Tax Benefit and Second Adult Rebate reduce your Council Tax bill. You'll get a new bill showing the reduced amount of Council Tax you have to pay.

Effect on other financial help

Council Tax Benefit and Second Adult Rebate won't affect other benefits you get.

How to claim

If you're looking for work

You can claim Council Tax Benefit (including Second Adult Rebate) and Housing Benefit with your claim for the following benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

Call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688.

There's a Welsh language line on 0800 012 1888, and a textphone 0800 023 4888 if you find it hard to speak or hear clearly. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Jobcentre Plus will send details of your claims for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to your local council.

If you’re claiming Pension Credit

You can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (including Second Adult Rebate) with your claim for Pension Credit.

Call the Pensions service on 0800 99 1234 or textphone 0800 169 0133. Lines are open 8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday and 9.00 am to 1.00 pm on Saturdays.

An adviser will help you apply for these benefits and let you know what happens next.

The Pensions service will send details of your claims for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to your local council.

If you're not claiming other benefits

If you’re not claiming Pension Credit, Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance you can get a form for Council Tax Benefit, Second Adult Rebate and Housing Benefit from your local council.

Download a claim form

You can download a claim form from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website.

Claiming in advance

You can make a claim up to 13 weeks (17 weeks if you're aged 60 or over) before you become entitled to Council Tax Benefit. So if you know you're moving to a new address soon, you can claim Council Tax Benefit before you move. You won't usually get any money before you move in.

Backdating a claim

You may be able to get your Council Tax Benefit claim backdated if there's a valid reason why you weren't able to claim earlier.

The following links will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.

What to do if your circumstances change

You must tell your local council if for example:

  • any of your children leave school or leave home
  • anyone moves into or out of your home
  • your income, or the income of anyone living with you, changes
  • your capital or savings change
  • your rent changes
  • you move
  • you or your partner or civil partner are going to be away from home for more than a month
  • you or anyone who lives with you goes into hospital
  • you or anyone who lives with you starts work, even if it is voluntary
  • you or anyone who lives with you goes into a care home

This isn't a full list. You have a responsibility to report changes in circumstances. Failure to do so could result in a fraud prosecution or losing your benefit. Follow the links below to your local authority website to find out more.

Getting Council Tax Benefit in work

You can get Council Tax Benefit when you get a job and earn a wage. You may also get other benefits and support to help you stay in work.

See 'Benefits and help when going back to work' to find out more.

How to appeal

If you're refused Council Tax Benefit or aren't happy with your council's decision you can ask them to reconsider. If you're still unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal to an independent Unified Appeal Tribunal.

Follow the links below to your local authority website to find out more.

Council Tax reduction for disabled people

You may be entitled to a reduction in Council Tax if you're disabled or have a disabled person living with you.

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