What is Council Tax Benefit?
Council Tax Benefit is help for anyone on a low income who is liable to pay Council Tax. Applicants can claim whether they are in full time work or getting a Social Security Benefit or Tax / Pension Credits. Local councils deal with Council Tax Benefit claims and must follow rules set out by Parliament.
Who can claim?
Anyone who has to pay rent or Council Tax can claim.
• Have a partner, or be single
• Be a pensioner
• Be employed or self-employed
• Get other benefits or Tax / Pension credits
• People with more than £16,000 in savings will not get Council Tax Benefit, even if their income is low. Although anyone in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee is an exception to this.
• Full time students cannot claim unless they are Pensioners, lone parents, disabled, getting income support, Job Seekers Allowance Income Based or they have a partner and have dependent children, or are responsible for a child boarded out with them.
• If you have come into the United Kingdom within two years of your claim this may affect your claim and you will have to undergo an Habitual Residency Test.
• Asylum seekers who have not had their refugee status confirmed by the Home Office.
Not sure if you can qualify?
Apply and let us work it out for you. It's free and it could save you money.
You can use our online benefits calculator to see if you might qualify and for how much.
How do you claim ?
You can claim Council Tax Benefit any time, in one of these ways:
• When you claim Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance, you need to tell them that you wish to claim Council Tax Benefit, they will either give you an HCTB form to complete or if claimed at a caller centre they will send us a copy of your claim form.
• You can get a benefit application form from the Benefits Service at Runnymede.
Whichever form you use, you must send it in without delay, or you may lose some benefit.
If you don't get Income Support or JSA (IB), you can get a benefit application form from Benefits Service.
Whichever form you use, you must send it in without delay, or you may lose some benefit.
What do I need to provide?
All applicants will need to provide original documents to confirm the details on the form and prove their identity.
What documents are acceptable to prove my identity?
You will be asked to provide 2 original documents, from the following list:
• Bank statement , dated within 4 weeks of claim.
• Passport, current and valid.
• Birth certificates reissued certificates are not acceptable.
• Driving Licence
• Utility bills, paid and in your name for the last quarter.
• National Insurance Card.
• UK Residence Permit.
• Wage slips
• Credit Cards
• Social security / Pension Service Letters, with your name and address.
• Divorce papers
• Life Insurance/ assurance policies
When do you claim ?
Claim Council Tax benefit as soon as you think you need help with your rent. Benefit is usually paid from the Monday after the date we get your claim form. We cannot normally backdate claims.
If you know your circumstances are going to change – possibly your income will be going down or you will be taking on a new tenancy soon – you can claim up to 13 weeks before you need help.
If you move home, it is important that you claim benefit within the first week of your tenancy starting.
How do we work out Council Tax Benefits?
To work out your benefit, we must compare the money you have coming in each week with the money the government says you need to live on. The benefit application form you fill in asks all the questions we need answered to work out if you qualify for benefit.
How much Benefit you get depends on:
• Your savings
• The money you have coming in
• Money the government says you need to live on
• Rent and / or Council Tax you pay
• If you are a privately rented tenant then the Rent Officer Service will set a reasonable rent for the property that you live in. (please read Guide for Private Tenants leaflet).
• Any other adults that live in your property (excluding your partner).
If you and your partner have combined savings of more than £16,000, you will not get Council Tax Benefit. If you and your partner have savings of £6,000 or less, we will ignore them in working out your benefit. For every £250 in savings you have above £6,000, the rules say we must add £1.00 onto your weekly income. For example, if you have £3,500 savings, we add £2.00 onto your weekly income.
We ignore any actual interest your savings earn.
If you have dependent children who have savings of more than £3,000 you will not get an allowance in your applicable amount for them. We ignore a child's savings of less than £3,000.
How much money you have coming in
The money you and your family have coming in may be earnings or unearned income, such as benefits, pension /tax credit or pensions from work.
We can ignore certain parts of your income, such as Disability Living Allowance or War Pensions. However, you must still tell us about them.
How much money you need to live on
Parliament sets a minimum level of income you must have to live on. This is called an Applicable Amount. Your applicable amount is made up of Personal Allowances and Premiums.
Personal Allowances depend on:
• Your age
• Whether you have a partner or are single
• How many dependent children you have and their ages.
Premiums recognise that some people have special or extra needs, such as:
• Elderly people
• People with a disability
• Carers – people who look after sick and disabled.
We add the personal allowances and premiums together to give the amount of money the government considers you can live on. We cannot alter them.
The amount of Council Tax you pay
The amount of Council Tax you have to pay is shown on a Council Tax bill, which the council will send you. The bill will show you the gross Council Tax and any discounts or reductions that you are entitled to. If you are already getting Council Tax Benefit, this will be shown as a reduction on your bill.
The maximum benefit you can get is all of your Council Tax bill. However, if you have other adults living in your home, they may be expected to pay something towards the Council Tax.
The rules say we must make fixed deductions from the net Council Tax. In some situations, no deductions are made. If you would like some more information, please ask us for the "non-dependant" leaflet.
If you get Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) or Pension Credit Guarantee you will get help with your net Council Tax, less any deduction for other adults living with you.
If you don't get Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) or Pension Credit Guarantee, we compare your weekly income against your applicable amount. If your income is less than the applicable amount, you get help with all your net Council Tax, less any deduction for other adults living with you.
If your income is more than your applicable amount, the help we give with your net Council Tax (less any deduction for adults) goes down on a sliding scale of 20p for every £1 difference.
Second Adult Rebate
If you do not get benefit in your own right, you may be able to qualify for Second Adult Rebate.
If you have someone over 18 who is sharing your home and:
• Is not paying you rent
• Is not your partner
• Does not have to pay Council Tax and
• Has a low gross income
You may be able to claim a rebate for that person. We do not count your own income or savings for this.
How do we pay Council Tax Benefit?
If you pay Council Tax, we normally send you a Council Tax bill with the benefit already taken off. You then only pay the reduced amount. This means you won’t actually get any money, but your Council Tax bill will be less.
Do we tell you how we have worked out your benefit ?
NO. But we do write and tell you how much benefit you will get. We also tell you in our letter what information we used to work it out. If you think we used any wrong information, you must tell us at once.
If you want to know more about how we worked out your benefit, you can ask for a written explanation.
What if you disagree with the way we work out your benefit?
If you think we are wrong, ask us to review your claim. To do this write to the Benefits Service, saying you want a review of your case and give all your reasons why. Once we have reviewed your case, we write to you and tell you the outcome.
If you still think we are wrong, you can appeal against our decision. To do this you must write to the benefits service within one month of the original decision and state clearly why you disagree with the decision.
The appeal will the heard by an independent Appeals Service Tribunal. You can obtain more details about appealing by reading our appeals leaflet.
If you want to know more about Review Board appeals, please contact the Benefits Service.
Can you get any other financial help?
Council Tax Benefits
Council Tax Benefit is paid to people on a low income who are liable for the Council Tax.
It is worked out in a similar way to Housing Benefit. You can claim it using the same Benefit Application form that you use to claim Housing Benefit.
If you want to know more about Council Tax Benefit, please contact the Benefits Service, or Council Tax Benefit.
Freeline Social Security
For more information on Social Security benefits, for people with disabilities there is a free telephone enquiry service: 0800 88 22 00.
Where can you get help and advice?
If you want advice or more information if you have claimed Housing Benefit, please contact the Benefits Section wither in person or by telephoning (01932) 425388.
We will be happy to help you.