Despite help with Council Tax being available to millions in England, there are a high number of people who are simply unaware of their entitlement. This help applies to those of working age and pensioners who may both be on low incomes.

Trying to pay bills and maintain a decent standard of living is becoming more and more difficult these days. Mortgage or rent repayments, utility bills, food and all other costs incurred throughout the month can leave almost nothing left. However, when it comes to Council Tax Arrears, these can lead to serious problems. Falling behind with Council Tax can lead people in hot water, and potentially lead to legal action against you.

Help with Council Tax Payments

Those who are considered to be on low income may be entitled to assistance when paying council tax. The type of help offered typically falls under what is known as Council Tax Reduction (CTR). Depending on the local authority, the CTR scheme will differ.

Generally speaking, CTR will follow similar rules in who is entitled to it, across the board. That is, pensioners and those of working age will be entitled to a percentage of a reduction in their bill for the year.

Rules for Council Tax Reduction

In order to be eligible for CTR, you must live in the property where you are applying for the benefit. Without being resident at the property, you will not be entitled to claim a reduction. A local authority can ignore your absence under certain circumstances, but this is discretional. There are particular time periods of absence for retired pensioners who may be entitled to claim under a CTR scheme.

To claim, you must be responsible for paying council tax on the property. At times, you may be responsible for paying council tax even if the bill is not in your name. You may also have a joint responsibility to pay council tax with another person. When applying for relief under a CTR scheme, you should also look into whether the property you are claiming for is council tax exempt or there are certain discounts for occupants.

Discretionary Reductions

Council Tax can be reduced or completely written off at the discretion of a local authority. This is a discretionary decision which can be made by the local authority if they deem a case to warrant exceptional intervention. The local authority generally needs to see some form of proof that your circumstances are exceptional prior to making a decision to approve your case for discretionary reductions.

As decision makers will tend to treat each case based on their own individual merits, it is difficult to really say what is considered worthy enough to earn discretionary reductions. Your circumstances could be exceptional enough to claim this benefit, so check with your local government if you believe this to be the case.

More and more people each year miss out on help they could have with Council Tax, simply by not knowing their entitlements. Find out what help you can avail of sooner rather than later.


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