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Changes to Council Tax Benefit in England

If you're on a low income, you may get help with paying your council tax. Before April 2013, this was called Council Tax Benefit. From April 2013, this benefit has been replaced by new local schemes called Council Tax Reduction.

This page explains how Council Tax Reduction works, and who is affected by the changes.

What’s changing

From 1 April 2013, local authorities in England are responsible for running their own Council Tax Reduction scheme.

No new claims for Council Tax Benefit (CTB) will be accepted. If you were already getting CTB, you should have been transferred to your local authority Council Tax Reduction scheme and your CTB claim closed.

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 are transitional arrangements if you're entitled to backdated CTB.

Who will be affected?

The new rules about CTR only affect people of working age.

Pensioners

If you’ve reached the age for Pension Credit and your income is low enough, 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 not a pensioner, 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 were getting 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 have in place.

Appeals against a decision about Council Tax Benefit used to be 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 did the changes happen?

The new local schemes came into effect on 1 April 2013.

Other useful information

  • Find your local council in England from the GOV.UK website, at www.gov.uk

Citizens Advice

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