Council tax reduction scheme FAQ

Council tax reduction scheme FAQ

Can I claim council tax reduction?

You can claim council tax reduction if you are liable to pay council tax for the property that you live in. Council tax reduction is based on your and your partner’s income, savings and circumstances and the amount of council tax that you have to pay.

There is another type of council tax reduction that you may be able to get; this is known as second adult reduction. Second adult reduction is based on the income and circumstances of other adults (not including your partner) who live in your household .

This may be awarded if your income is too high to get normal council tax reduction but another adult in your household has a low income, for example, receives Income Support. The maximum second adult reduction that can be awarded is restricted to 25% of your total council tax bill. Where you have applied for both council tax reduction and second adult reduction we will automatically work out and award whichever is the highest.

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Can I claim council tax reduction if I work?

Yes. You can claim council tax reduction if you work and receive a low income.

We will need to see evidence of your earnings. You will need to provide:

  • Your last five payslips, if you are paid weekly
  • Your last two payslips, if you are paid monthly
  • If you have only recently started work and not yet been paid, ask your employer to provide an estimate of your gross earnings, tax and National Insurance deductions. We will use this information to calculate your council tax reduction until you receive actual details of your earnings.  

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Can I claim council tax reduction if I am self-employed?

Yes, you can claim council tax reduction if you are self-employed and receive a low income from your business. You will need to send us your most recent accounts with your claim form. We will send you a self employed information form to complete.

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Does the amount of capital/savings I have affect my council tax reduction claim?

It will depend on the amount of capital/savings you and your partners have as to whether it will affect the amount of your reduction.

  • If you and your partner have joint capital of more than £16,000 you will not normally be able to get council tax reduction
  • If you and your partner are aged 60 or over you can have up to £6,000 capital before it affects your reduction
  • Income of £1 for every £500 between £6,000 and £16,000 is taken into account when we work out entitlement to a reduction
  • If you and your partner are aged less than 60 you can have up to £6,000 capital before it affects your reduction
  • Income of £1 for every £250 between £6,000 and £16,000 is taken into account when we work out entitlement to a reduction
  • Capital includes cash, current accounts, other bank/building society/post office accounts, unit trusts, ISAs, Tessas, National Savings Certificates, shares, premium bonds and property (other than the home you live in) or land you own

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What happens if I have somebody aged 18 or over other than my partner living with me?

Your council tax reduction may be reduced if you have somebody else aged over 18 other than your partner living with you such as a grown up son or daughter. The amount that will be deducted will depend on their income and circumstances.

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How much council tax reduction can I get?

All working age residents (18 years to your current state retirement age) will have to pay at least 25% of their council tax charge, even if they are eligible for council tax reduction or other kinds of benefit e.g. Income Support (IS)Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The amount you receive will depend on your income and whether you have other adults (other than your partner) living in your household.

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When will my council tax reduction be paid from?

Your reduction will usually start from the Monday after we receive your claim form. It is important that you return your claim form to us as soon as possible as any delay may result in you losing reduction.

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Can my council tax reduction claim be backdated?

If you are of Pension Credit age your claim can be automatically backdated for up to 3 months. If you are of working age you can ask for your claim to be backdated for up to 6 months from the date you make the request, which must be in writing. You must have a good reason for not applying earlier and you must be able to show this throughout the period in question. You can request backdated reduction on the council tax reduction/housing benefit claim form or you can write to the benefit service with your details.

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How long is council tax reduction paid for?

There is no set period of time but from time to time we will need to confirm certain details of your claim and we will contact you where this is necessary or we may arrange to visit you.

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How will council tax reduction be paid?

We will pay any council tax reduction, including second adult reduction entitlement, direct to your council tax account. This will reduce the amount that you have to pay and we will send you a new council tax bill to advise you how much you have to pay.

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What happens when you receive my council tax reduction claim?

When we receive your claim form we will check the form and the evidence that you have provided. If we have all the information we need to decide your claim we will process your claim as quickly as possible and inform you of the outcome of your claim. If we need you to provide more information we will write to you again. You will have a calendar month to provide us with any additional information that we request or for you to advise us when the information will be available.

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What happens if I do not agree with your decision about my council tax reduction?

When we have decided your claim we will send you a notification letter, which will advise you of the outcome. The letter will advise you of all of the details we have used to work out your reduction entitlement and it is important that you check that the information is correct. You must let us know within one month if you do not agree with the decision we have made in your case. See the Your Rights page

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What happens if my circumstances change?

It is very important that you let us know immediately if you have a change in your circumstances as you may receive too little or too much reduction. It is an offence not to tell us about any change of circumstance that affects your reduction. We may take legal action against you and if we pay you too much reduction, you will probably have to pay it back.

You can tell us about any changes by writing to the Benefit Service at the address shown or you can use a change of circumstances form. You can also tell us of your changes by using our reporting changes for benefits/reductions online form.

It is important that you provide details of the change, the date that the change occurred and evidence where appropriate.

Examples of the type of changes that you need to report are as follows:

  • If you change your address
  • If your rent changes
  • If you or your partner go into hospital
  • If you or your partner’s income or savings increase or decrease
    • Income Support or Job Seeker’s Allowance stops
    • Starting work or changing employer
    • If the amount or type of state benefit changes
    • If wages increase or decrease
    • If private pension increases
    • If Tax Credit is awarded or amount of award changes
  • Changes affecting people who live with you eg:
    • If someone comes to live with you or if someone leaves your household
    • If the income or circumstances of someone living with you changes (e.g. they start work or their Income Support ends)
    • If you stop getting Child Benefit for someone

This list only provides some examples of the type of changes that may occur. It is not exhaustive. It is important that you check with the Benefit Service if you are unsure if a change will affect your entitlement to a reduction. If in doubt, tell us!

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I have started work, what do I need to do?

If you are receiving Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance you should tell us and the Department for Work and Pensions the date you started work. Details of the phone number and address for the Benefits Service are shown at benefits/reductions contacts page.

Extended payment – if you have been unemployed for six months or more and you were receiving Income Support or Income-based Jobseekers Allowance immediately before starting work you may be entitled to an extended payment of council tax reduction.

This means that for the first four weeks after you start work you will continue to receive the same amount of council tax reduction that was in payment before starting work. The DWP should tell us if you satisfy the conditions for the extended payments. If you think you are entitled contact us without delay.

Making a further claim for council tax reduction after starting work

You may still be entitled to council tax reduction after you start work if you have a low income. You will need to fill in a new council tax reduction form providing details of your new circumstances.

Where you have not yet received your first wage from your new employer you will need to ask them to provide us with details of your likely gross earnings and tax and national insurance deductions so that we can estimate your earnings to calculate your council tax reduction entitlement.

When you have received your first wage slips you will need to send them to us so that we can check details of your actual earnings and we may have to amend your claim again.

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How can I report suspected benefit/reduction fraud?

The council is committed to ensuring that people receive their correct entitlement to council tax reduction, housing benefit and free school meals and every effort will be made to deal with claims as quickly as possible. However, it is important that people who are claiming benefit/reduction to which they are not entitled are reported to the Benefits Service so that the appropriate action can be taken against them. If you know that somebody is, or think that somebody may be claiming benefit/reduction fraudulently, check out what to do on our Fraud page. Any information provided will be treated in confidence.

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Where can I find out more about council tax reduction rules?

If you would like more information about the government‘s housing benefit/council tax reduction regulations you can see a copy of the regulations at Walsall Council’s reception or at the Central Library. Other benefit information is available on the Directgov website – and you have a choice of information about the range of welfare benefits.  

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