HOMEOWNERS struggling with the soaring cost of living could save hundreds of pounds a year by claiming a council tax discount.
Millions of households are eligible for a discount – and some could even get the balance wiped to zero.You could be eligible for money off your council tax bill[/caption]
From rebates to reductions, here are all the times you could be eligible for a reduction on your council tax bill.
The council tax rebate
Millions of households are starting to receive a £150 rebate on their council tax.
The giveaway was announced by Rishi Sunak earlier this year, as part of a package of measures to help households cope with soaring energy bills.
Households in council tax bands A to D will get the money – this is around 15 million homes across the country.
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You can find out which band you’re in by entering your postcode into the government’s search tool.
Those in higher bands can still apply for help through a £144million discretionary fund though, so you won’t necessarily miss out.
The quickest way to get the cash is if you pay your council tax bill by direct debit.
These households will get money paid directly into their bank account.
If you don’t pay by direct debit, you may have to apply for your cash. Check with your local council how to do this.
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Payments started to roll out from April 1, but many households are still waiting.
Others have complained that the giveaway barely offsets the rise in council tax bills, which came into effect in April.
Some people have seen theirs go up by as much as 6%.
But some councils are giving out EXTRA cash on top of the rebate.
Away from the Government giveaway, the help you can get with your council tax bill will depend on your circumstances and where you live.
Factors such as your household income, whether you have children, and if you receive any benefits, will influence what you get.
If you live on your own though, you can get 25% off your council tax bill.
This also applies if there is one adult and one student living together in a property, or if there is one adult and one person classed as severely mentally impaired in the home.
If you live with someone who doesn’t have to pay council tax, such as a carer or someone who is severely mentally impaired, you could get a larger reduction too, of up to 50%.
And, if you live in an all-student household, you could get a 100% discount.
A full list of circumstances that exempt you from paying council tax can be found on Citizens Advice.
Pensioners may also find themselves eligible for a council tax reduction.
If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you could even get a 100% discount.
If you don’t receive this, you can still get help if you’re on a low income.
Typically, pensioners with less than £16,000 in savings may be eligible for a reduction.
The single person’s discount is also available to pensioners – so if you live alone, you can get a 25% discount.
Low Income households
Households with a low income or which receive benefits may also qualify for a reduction on their council tax.
The requirements to get help will vary depending on where you live, so the best first step is to check with your local council.
You can find out which is your local council using the government website.
If you don’t qualify for a reduction but you’re struggling to pay your council tax, you can speak to your council about a deferral.
It may let you set up a more manageable payment plan to ensure you can keep on top of the cost.
It’s best to speak to your council as soon as possible if you’re worried about debt. Organisations such as Citizens Advice and Stepchange may also be able to offer advice.
Council tax is a priority bill – if you fall behind you might have to pay the full year’s balance in one go, while non-payment could result in bailiffs, court action or even imprisonment.
A recent investigation by The Sun revealed that hard-up households can get their council tax debt cancelled.
Local authorities are keen to clear record levels of arrears.
How to apply for a council tax discount
The Government website is your first port of call to apply for a reduction on your council tax.
You’ll need a few bits of personal information to hand such as your national insurance number, passport and bank statements.
If you don’t qualify for a discount, but think you’re paying too much, you could potentially apply for your home to be re-banded.
This requires a bit of research, including finding out which council tax band your neighbours are in and finding out how much your property was worth in 1991 (when the bands were set).
There’s no guarantee your claim will be successful though, and you could even be moved into a higher band and have to pay more.
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One mum recently won an appeal on her council tax band which has saved her and her neighbours thousands of bounds.
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