Council Tax FAQs – Reducing your council tax

There are a number of discounts that can reduce your Council Tax which are separate from Council Tax Benefit or Support.

Council tax is calculated on the basis that there are at least two adults living in a property (18 and over). If only one adult lives in the property then a 25% discount will apply. This is called single occupier discount.

In certain situations you may be able to claim a discount even if you do not live alone. certain individuals are disregarded and are not counted for council tax when we calculate the bill. We would call this a disregard discount.

If all but 1 occupier is disregarded a 25% discount will be given. If all the occupiers are ignored a 50% discount, or in certain circumstances an exemption, could be given.

If there are more than two adults living in a property we must be able to disregard all but one of them for any discount to be granted.

In some cases a property can be classed as exempt from Council Tax. This means that there will be nothing to pay. Some exemptions last for a limited time and some could be for an indefinite period of time, or until circumstances change.

From 1 April 2014 a 50% discount is available if an annexe is occupied by a relative of the Council Tax payer for the main property or where it is used as part of the main property.

Discounts and exemptions can be applied to occupied and unoccupied property.

If you think you are eligible for a reduction in your council tax then please complete the online Single Person Discount Form or download a copy . Please make sure that you have read the Frequently asked questions below before you complete the form.

Frequently asked questions about council tax discounts

Discounts on occupied properties: What discounts are available on occupied properties?
You can claim a 25% discount if you live alone. If someone is working away from home, or on holiday, it will not count as a change of home and we won’t be able to grant any discount, even if it just leaves one person in the household.
If you claim a discount, you must tell us straight away if your circumstances change. For example, if someone living with you becomes 18, or if another adult moves in with you.
If you think that you might be entitled to this discount you can apply online, or you can print an application form and send it to us. Alternatively you can phone us and we will go through the application with you. You will need to give us your council tax account reference which is on the top right of your bill.
Discounts for students: What if I am (or someone living in my home is) a student?
Most full time students are ignored or “disregarded” when we calculate the council tax bill for a property. The course must last for at least one academic year and involve at least 21 hours study per week. If you are under 20 and you are studying for a qualification up to A level, your course must last at least 3 months and involve at least 12 hours study per week.
If you are a student and live alone you can claim an exemption and you won’t pay any council tax.
If you live with other people you could still claim an exemption or discount. This will depend on the number of people living with you and how many of them we have to take into account when we calculate the bill.
Typical examples would be:

  •  If you are a student and live alone you will be exempt from council tax.
  • If two or more people live in the property and they are all full time students, you will be exempt from council tax.
  • If two people live in the property and one is student and the other person isn’t, you can have a 25% discount.
  • If three people or more live in a property and only one is a student, you can’t claim an exemption or discount.
  • We would also disregard a non British husband or wife of a student if they are prevented from working or claiming benefit. If this applies to you please contact us with your details.

If you think that you might be entitled to this discount, or exemption, please print  student discount application form  and send it to us.  You will also need to send us a student certificate that you can get from the administration office at your school, college or university
Discounts for apprentices: What if I am (or some who lives with me is) an apprentice?
Apprentices are ignored or “disregarded” when we calculate the council tax bill for a property.  For council tax purposes an apprentice is someone who is over 18 living in the property and meets the following criteria:

  • is employed for the purpose of learning a profession and
  • is on training programme that leads to a qualification accredited by the National Council for Accredited Qualifications and
  • earns less than £195 per week

If you think that you might be entitled to this discount please print our apprentice discount form and send it to us.
Disregarding over 18 year olds qualifying for child benefit: What if I live with my son/daughter who is over 18 and I still get child benefit for them?
If you have a son or daughter at home, who is 18 or over and still receives child benefit they will be ignored or “disregarded” when we calculate the council tax bill. You will get a discount until the child benefit ends.
If the young person is also a school or college leaver, they will be disregarded after they leave, until 1st November that year.
If you think that you might be entitled to this discount please print a 18 year olds qualifying of child benefit discount application form  and send it to us.
Discount or exemption for those in residential care or hospital: What if I am (or someone that lived with me) is now a resident in a care home or hospital?
If a person has left home permanently and moved into a hospital, nursing home or residential care home to receive care or treatment, a discount or exemption could apply.
A discount can be granted if there is now only one person living in a property. If you think that you might be entitled to this discount, please print an exemption form as in residential care or hospital form and send it to us. Alternatively you can phone us and we will go through the application with you. You will need to give us your council tax account reference which is on the top right of your bill.
If there is nobody living in the property we can grant an exemption. If you think that you might be entitled to this exemption please print an application form and send it to us. Alternatively you can phone us and we will go through the application with you. You will need to give us your council tax account reference which is on the top right of your bill.
Discount or exemption for those with a severe cognitive impairment: What if I suffer (or someone I live with suffers) from a severe cognitive disorder or impairment.
If someone that lives alone, or lives with you, is suffering from permanent severe cognitive impairment, that person will be ignored or “disregarded” for council tax purposes. This means that we won’t take that person into account when we calculate the bill and an exemption, or discount could apply.
To qualify, a doctor must confirm the date that the person began to suffer from the impairment and that the person has “a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning that appears to be permanent”. We don’t need to know about someone’s health as we only need to know that their doctor believes a reduction in council tax should apply.
The person must be also receiving one or more of the following benefits:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Disability Persons Tax Credit
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Care Component of a Disability Living Allowance paid at the highest or middle Severe Disablement Allowance rate
  • An increase in the rate of Disablement Pension
  • Income Support where the calculation includes a Disability Premium
  • Attendance Allowance
  • A State Pension where the person would have been entitled to one of the benefits above if they had not already reached retirement age

If you think that this discount or exemption could apply, please print a discount for severe mental impairment form   and send it to us. Alternatively we will also be able to complete the application form with you over the phone, but we would need you to send us proof of the person’s entitlement to one of the qualifying benefits and also a letter from their doctor confirming the medical circumstances.
Discount for disabled adaptations: What if I am disabled and my property has been altered to meet my needs?
Having a disability does not automatically mean that you will get a discount in your council tax. We can grant a discount if a property has been altered to meet the needs of a disabled person. Adaptations that could qualify for a discount include having:

  • a room other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet which is specifically for the disabled person.
  • an additional bathroom or kitchen that is used by the disabled person.
  • space indoors for using a wheelchair

However adaptations such as putting in a stair lift, grip rails or ramps will not necessarily mean that we can grant a discount. Please ask us for advice.
We will need to arrange a convenient time to visit the property to confirm whether the discount can be granted.
The discount will last until the disabled person no longer lives at the property, or the adaptations have been removed.
If you think that you might be entitled to this discount please print a disabled adaption discount application form  and send it to us. Alternatively you can phone us and we will go through an application with you. Please have your account reference with you when you contact us. This is found on the top right of your bill.
Exemption for a dependant’s annexe: What if my property has an annexe that is lived in by a dependant relative?
If your property has an annexe that is occupied by a dependant relative you can claim an exemption on that annexe, providing your relative meets the following criteria.
Your relative must either be:

  • Aged 65 or over
  • Disabled or
  • Severely mentally impaired

If you think that you might be entitled to this exemption please print an exemption for a dependants annexe form  and send it to us.
Discount for carers: What if I am (or someone that I live with is) a carer or care worker?
There are two types of carer that are ignored or “disregarded” for council tax and we won’t take them into account when we calculate the bill.
There are carers who look after a member of the family, or a friend in their own home and there are carers who are employed on a low income. We cannot allow a discount where care is being provided to a husband, wife, or a child under 18.
If you are providing care to a friend or family member and you live in the same home, you can claim a discount if:

  • Everyone in the household, or everyone except one person, can be ignored for council tax purposes.
  • The person you care for needs care for at least 35 hours per week.
  • The person you care for is receiving: Attendance Allowance, middle or highest rate of care component of Disability Living Allowance, an increase to Severe Disability Pension, or an increase in constant Attendance Allowance

If you are employed as a care worker and live in the same property as the person you are caring for, you can claim a discount if:

  • Everyone in the household, or everyone except one person, can be ignored for council tax purposes.
  • You are employed by a charitable organisation or public authority, or have been introduced to the person by a charitable organisation or public authority.
  • You provide at least 24 hours of care each week.
  • You earn less than £44 per week for your care services.

If you think that you might be entitled to this discount please print our Carers discount form  and send it to us.
If you receive Local Housing Allowance (housing benefit) you may be entitled to an additional bedroom, for your carer, if your carer stays overnight regularly. Please contact the Benefits Service on 01323 443500.
Discount or exemption if a person is in prison: What if I am (or someone I lived with is) now in prison?
If someone has gone into prison a discount or exemption could apply on the person’s home. This depends on how many people now live there. A discount can be granted if there is now only one adult living in the property. And an exemption will apply if no one is living there.
If you think that you might be entitled to this discount you can apply online for a single person council tax discount, or please print an exemption as resident in prison form  and send it to us.
A discount or exemption cannot be granted if the person is in prison for not paying council tax.
Exemption for properties occupied by under 18s: What if my property is occupied only by people aged under 18?
If a property is occupied by people who are all under 18, or if someone under 18 lives alone, the property will be exempt and you won’t have to pay any council tax. This is because a person can’t be liable to pay council tax until they become 18.
If you live alone the exemption will apply until you become 18. If everyone you live with is under 18 the exemption will apply until the first person becomes 18.
If you think that this exemption applies to your property, please print a all occupants under 18 exemption form and send it to us.
Discount for properties occupied by a religious community: What if my property is only occupied by members of a religious community?
People who are members of religious communities are ignored or “disregarded” when we calculate the council tax bill for a property. They must spend most of their time in prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering.
This is a discount that is normally granted on property that is used as a convent or monastery.
If you think that this discount applies to your property, please print a religious community discount form and send it to us.
Exemption for armed forces personnel: What if my property is occupied by armed forces personnel?
If a property that is owned by the Ministry of Defence is occupied by UK armed forces personnel, it will be exempt from council tax. If the property is unoccupied, it will also be exempt from council tax.
If you think that this exemption applies to your property, please print a form and send it to us.
Exemption for visiting forces personnel: What if my property is occupied by visiting forces personnel?
If a property is occupied by visiting forces personnel it will be exempt. The property would also be exempt if it was occupied by a dependant of a member of a visiting force. Providing that the dependant was not:

  • A British Citizen, or
  • Is not normally a resident in the UK
  • If the property is owned or rented by a member of a visiting force, but is also occupied by other people who are not, it will still be exempt.

If you think that this exemption applies to your property, please print a visiting forces exemption form and send it to us.
Discount for accommodation connected to my job: What if I live in accommodation that’s related to my job?

If the terms and conditions of your job mean that you have to live in accommodation provided with your job. And you have moved out of your main home, you can claim a 50% discount in your council tax. Examples might be a caretaker, or publican.

You can’t claim any discount if you are simply renting a second home, because it is more convenient, and nearer to where you work.

If you think that this discount will apply to your property, please print a

If the terms and conditions of your job mean that you have to live in accommodation provided with your job. And you have moved out of your main home, you can claim a 50% discount in your council tax. Examples might be a caretaker, or publican.

You can’t claim any discount if you are simply renting a second home, because it is more convenient, and nearer to where you work.

If you think that this discount will apply to your property, please print a Job related accommodation form and send it to us.

Exemption for diplomats: What if I am (or is someone that I live with is) a diplomat or has diplomatic immunity?
A person who is a diplomat, or benefits from diplomatic immunity, is ignored or “disregarded” for council tax. This means that we won’t take them into account when we calculate the bill. The only exception would be if the person was a British subject or citizen, or a permanent resident in the UK. If there is no one else living in the household that has an equal or greater interest in the property, we can grant an exemption.
If you think that you might be entitled to this exemption please print a diplomatic immunity exemption application form  and send it to us.
Discount for unused services: Do I get a discount if I don’t use all of the services that I’m paying for, or if the services are not provided?

Council tax is not a charge that is made specifically for services that you use or receive. The charge that you pay is a contribution to the overall cost of providing all of the services in your area. The law does not provide us with powers to grant discounts to people who do not use or receive some of these services.