How can my council tax bill be reduced?

There are a number of ways in which people can get help with council tax, including through:

  • Discounts
  • Disabled Person Council Tax band reduction
  • Exemptions
  • Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme
  • Discretionary Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Discounts

Who is eligible for a Council Tax Discount?

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The full Council Tax bill assumes there are at least two people who are 18 years old or older, living in your home. You bill will not increase if there are more than two people living in the property but, if only one person lives in the property a discount can be applied to the bill. The most common discount is called a Single Person Discount; this gives a discount of 25% of the bill because only 1 person lives in the property.

Some people who live in a property are not counted. This is often referred to as “disregarded for the purposes of a discount. This means that in some cases, 2 or more people can be living in a property but they can still apply for a discount.

If only one person is counted as living in a property there will be a 25% discount.

If all the people who live in the property are ‘disregarded’ there will be a 50% discount, but see the special rules for homes where all the people living there are severely mentally impaired.

Carers and people who are severely mentally impaired are disregarded when it comes to counting how many people live in a home and if the Council Tax bill should have a discount.

Do I have to tell the Council about my income and savings to qualify for a discount?

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No, Council Tax discounts are not means tested so your income and savings do not affect your eligiblity.

I am a carer but I don’t receive Carers Allowance, can I still apply for a discount?

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You do not have to be receiving Carers Allowance to count as a carer. However to be disregarded as a carer, you need to meet the following conditions:

  • you live in the same home as vthe person you provide care for
  • the person receiving care isn’t your spouse, partner or child under the age of 18
  • you provide at least 35 hours a week of care to a person who is entitled to receive one of the following:
    • any rate of Attendance Allowance
    • the middle or highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
    • any rate of the daily living activity component of Personal Independent Living Payment
    • an increase in his or her disablement pension
    • an increase in Constant Attendance Allowance

Both my partner and I provide at least 35 hours a week care to my mother, who is receiving Attendance Allowance. Can we both be disregarded?

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If there is more than one carer in the property, they can all be disregarded for Council Tax purposes as long as they all meet the conditions.

What do you mean by ‘severely mentally impaired’?

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To be disregarded on the grounds of being ‘severely mentally impaired’ the person must meet both of the following conditions:

  • have a certificate from a registered medical practitioner (the form to use is available on the Council’s website)
  • be entitled to one of the state benefits from the qualifying list which includes:
    • middle or higher rate of the care componant of a Disability Living Allowance
    • the daily living componant of Personal Independence Payment
    • Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
    • Employment & Support Allowance
    • Severe Disablement Allowance or Invalidity Pension
    • Income Support where the calculation including a Disability Premium

If everyone who lives in the property is considered to be ‘severely mentally impaired’, the property is exempt from Council Tax and there will be nothing to pay.

Can any other people be disregarded?

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Yes, there are many more people who can be disregarded such as people for whom child benefit is payable, apprentices, students and Youth Trainees.

How do I apply for a discount?

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For more information and the forms to use to apply for the discount, go to the Milton Keynes Council website. If you do not have access to a computer call

Disabled Person Council Tax Band Reduction

Who can apply for a Disabled Persons Band Reduction?

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If a resident of the property is disabled, the person named on the Council Tax bill may be able to apply for the Council Tax bill reduced. The property must be the disabled person’s main or only home. The disabled person does not need to be the person named on the bill.

To qualify, one or more of  the following conditions must apply:

  • there is room, other than a bedroom, kitchen or lavatory, which is used mainly to meet the needs of the disabled person
  • there is a second bathroom or kitchen which is required to meet the needs of the disabled person
  • the disabled person needs to use a wheelchair in the property and there is enough floor space to allow for this

By how much does a Disabled Person Band Reduction the bill?

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If a reduction is granted, the Council Tax due for the property is charged on the basis that the property is in one band lower than when it was valued. For example, if the property had been placed in Band D when it was valued, the charge would have been based on a Band C property. If the property is in Band A, then the charge will be reduced by one sixth.

Council Tax Exemptions

You will not have to pay any Council Tax on a property that hs already been exempt from Council Tax.

Some exceptions are to do with the type of property and others are to do with the reason why a property is empty.

I have moved out of my home to care for my elderly parent. My house is currently unoccupied; do I have to pay Council Tax on my old home?

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No, you do not have to pay any Council Tax because you have moved out of your home to care for someone who otherwise cannot manage without you.

Although no one lives in my old home, all my furniture is still there. Can I still apply for an exemption?

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Yes, because you have moved out of your home to care for someone who otherwise cannot manage without you.

Do I have to be living with the person I care for in order for my old home to be exempt?

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No, you do not need to be living with the person you care for but it is essential that you are better able to provide care from your new home than you could at your old home.

My elderly parent has come to live with me so I can care for her. No one lives in her old home but her furniture is still there. Is her old home exempt from Council Tax?

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Yes, where a person has left their normal home unoccupied because they need care, they will no have to pay Council Tax on their old home.

My brother’s home has been left unoccupied because he is now living in a care home. Is his house former exempt from council Tax?

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Yes. If a person moves out of their home to live in a hospital, a care home or a hostel where they are receiving care or treatment, they will not have to pay Council Tax on their old home.

My father needs to go to the hospital, a nursing home or a care home for a temporary stay. He will be coming home when he is well enough but we do not know how long that will be. His home will be empty while he is away. Is his home exempt from Council Tax?

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No. He will still be liable for Council Tax while he is temporarily absent. His normal home will only be exempt once the hospital or home is considered to be the place where he lives.

My sister lives in supported housing with her friend. They are both classed as severely mentally impaired. No one else lives with them although they do have a carers who sometimes stays overnight but does not live with them. Do they pay Council Tax?

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No. If all the people who could have been liable for the Council Tax bill are classed as severely mentally impaired, the property is exempt from Council Tax.

My relative lives in a self-contained annexe that is part of my property. Do I have to pay Council Tax on the annexe as well as the main part of the house?

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It depends on whether the relative living in the annexe is counted as a “dependable relative”.

If they are not a dependable relative, then Council Tax will be payable on the annexe as well as the main part of the home.

If they are a dependant relative then the annexe will be exempt from Council Tax, although you will still be expected to pay Council Tax for the main home:

  • a person aged 65 or over, or
  • a person who is severely mentally impaired, or
  • a person who is ‘substantially and permanently disabled

The list of persons who are counted as being a relative is quite long and includes great great grandparents and also allows for relationships by marriage.

What happens if the property is empty because the person who was living there has died?

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If the property is empty because the person who was named on the bill dies, it will be exempt as long as it has been unoccupied since the date of death and a grant of probate or letters of administration have not been made. The exemption will continue for up to 6 months after grant of probate or letters of administration.

Do all exemptions end after a certain length of time?

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Not all. Some exemptions do end after a fixed period but the exemptions mentioned below carry on for as long as the conditions for the exemption are still in place. i.e. where:

  • a property is left empty because someone has gone into care
  • a property is left empty because the occupant has left to provide care for someone
  • a property is only occupied by people who are severely mentally impaired

If the need for care ends, or someone who is not severely mentally impaired moves into a property, then the exemption will end.

How do I apply for an exemption?

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You should contact the Revenues Service by email to counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.uk or phone 01908 253794.

I didn’t know that I could apply for an exemption, can it be backdated?

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Yes, you can ask for an exemption to be backdated to the date the qualifying conditions were met.

Council Tax Reduction (CTR)

Even after discounts I can’t afford to pay my Council Tax bill, is there any other help available?

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Yes, if you are liable for Council Tax in Milton Keynes, and you are on low income, you can apply to the Council for a Council Tax Reduction (CTR). This replaced Council Tax Benefit in 2013.

How much help could I get with my bill?

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The Council calculate how much CTR you are entitled to, based on your income and savings. They also look at the size of your family to work out how much you need to live on and if there is anyone else living with you that could contribute towards the Council Tax bill.

The exact amount of help can therefore vary.

What is the maximum Council Tax Reduction that can be awarded?

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Working age applicants on a low income can get help with up to 80% of their Council Tax liability. They will therefore have to pay at least 20% of their Council Tax. On average, this means £14 a month.

People on a low income, who have reached the pension credit age can get help with the whole bill.

Do any working age people get help with up to 100% of their bill?

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Some people of working age, who the Council believes are vulnerable, can also get help with up to 100% of their Council Tax liability. These people are either:

  • receiving War Person, War Windows Pension or War Disablement Pension, or
  • under 22 years old and formerly in care, or
  • diagnosed as terminally ill and it is not unlikely that death could occur within 6 months, or
  • have a mental health condition that significantly affects their ability to manage money and they do not have:
    • a partner who is able to deal with the bill, or
    • someone else who looks after their finances for them

Discretionary Council Tax Reduction Awards (DCTR)

The Discretionary Council Tax Reduction (DCTR) scheme compliments the council’s main Local Council Tax Reduction scheme and allows for a further reduction in the amount of Council Tax charged where exceptional circumstances exist. The additional help is aimed at assisting people who are vulnerable and considered to be more at risk.

When applying for DCTR award, you will need to provide full details about your circumstances and about how being a carer impacts on your finances.

How do I apply for a Council Tax Reduction?

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You can find more about both the main CTR and the Discretionary CTR schemes and apply online at www.milton-meynes.gov.uk/ctr