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Council Tax Support and Rate Relief

If you have to pay council tax (rates in Northern Ireland) and are on a low income, you may be able to get help with paying these bills.

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Council Tax Support

Council Tax Support, also known as Council Tax Reduction, is the way that local councils help you pay your council tax if you’re on a low income. It’s means-tested, so the amount you get changes depending on how much money you have coming in. Local schemes, which vary from one area to another, replaced the nationwide Council Tax Benefit scheme in 2013. 

Housing rates and Rate Relief in Northern Ireland

Council tax and Council Tax Support apply in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has a system of housing rates instead of council tax, and of Rate Relief instead of Council Tax Support. Rate Relief is also means-tested. If you’re eligible for Rate Relief, Land and Property Services   will credit your rates account if you own your home or rent privately. If you’re a Northern Ireland Housing Executive tenant, it will pay into your account for you. You can find out more about rates at nidirect  .

Who is Council Tax Support for?

It’s for people who pay council tax, are on a low income and have savings up to £16,000.  There are also certain immigration or residence tests that apply to people coming into the UK. 

How much could you get?

There are different arrangements in England, Scotland and Wales, but the main principle is the same: the lower your income is, the more help you can get, and if your income goes up, the amount of Council Tax Support goes down. 

In England and Wales, each council has its own scheme. You should contact your local council, Citizens Advice   or other advice agency for details of the scheme in your area. More generous rules apply if you have reached Pension Credit age.

In England, most councils require council tax payers who are under Pension Credit age to pay part of their council tax, even if they are on another means-tested benefit. There are more generous rules for people who are disabled.

The Welsh and Scottish governments have given local councils extra money for Council Tax Support. This means councils in these nations may be able to help people on means-tested benefits have their council tax paid in full.

How to claim

Councils must accept claims in writing, by email, online or by phone. Contact your local council   for more information.

If your claim is rejected

If you’re unhappy with a decision related to a Council Tax Support application, you can ask your council to review it. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome of the review, depending on which nation you’re in, you can appeal. In England, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal for England   or in Wales, to the Valuation Tribunal for Wales  . In Scotland you can ask for a further review by an independent Council Tax Reduction Review Panel  .

To challenge a decision on your Rate Relief in Northern Ireland, start by contacting Land and Property Services   with your appeal. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, you can appeal to the Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal  .

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