Why is this important?
Changes to Council Tax Benefit in England
If you're on a low income, you may get help with paying your council tax. This is called Council Tax Benefit. This benefit is due to be replaced by new local schemes called Council Tax Reduction.
This page explains how Council Tax Reduction will work, and who will be affected by the changes.
From 1 April 2013, local authorities in England will be responsible for running their own Council Tax Reduction scheme.
No new claims for Council Tax Benefit (CTB) will be accepted. If you're already getting CTB, you'll be transferred to your local authority Council Tax Reduction scheme and your current CTB claim will close.
Each local authority must set up its own scheme, setting out who is entitled to CTR. This means that entitlement to CTR may be very different, depending on which local authority you come under.
There will be provisional arrangements if you're entitled to backdated CTB.
Who will be affected?
The new rules about CTR will only affect people of working age.
If you’ve reached the age for Pension Credit, you’ll still be able to get a full discount on your council tax bill as you did before April 2013, as long as your circumstances haven’t changed.
You won't be treated as a pensioner for CTR purposes if either you or your partner gets one of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit.
- More about Pension Credit
People of working age
If you’re under the age for getting Pension Credit, you're unlikely to get a full rebate and will have to pay some money towards your council tax bill. This may be a big change for some people who currently get a full rebate under the Council Tax Benefit scheme.
What could the new schemes be?
Depending on where you live, Council Tax Reduction may be:
- a discount worked out as a percentage of your council tax bill
- a discount on an amount set out in the scheme
- a discount on the whole amount of the council tax bill.
You should check with your local authority to see what kind of scheme they're putting in place.
Appeals against a decision about Council Tax Benefit are currently made through the independent Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. In future, appeals against a decision about Council Tax Reduction will be made through the Valuation Tribunal.
When will the changes happen?
The new local schemes will come into effect on 1 April 2013. If your local authority hasn't set out the rules of its own scheme by 31 January 2013, it will have to adopt a default scheme set out by the government.
Other useful information
- Find your local council in England from the GOV.UK website, at www.gov.uk