I’m worried about my Council Tax

My council tax bill is coming out in March and I am dreading opening it as it always goes up. My income has stayed the same but everything else seems more expensive and I have hardly anything left over – how will I cope if my payments for this year go up?

Many of us are feeling overwhelmed as we see our basic bills and essential costs go up. You’re not alone in finding things difficult but, crucially, there’s support available.

First off, there are discounts available to some people depending on their circumstances. You can check your bill or contact your council to find out if you might be eligible for a reduction to your council tax. Whether you get a reduction depends on who lives in the property and your income.

If you’re the only adult in your home, you’ll get a 25% discount on your council tax bill. When working out how many people live in a property, some people aren’t counted – they’re called ‘disregarded people’ and include under 18s, a student nurse or someone on an apprenticeship scheme and many more. You can check GOV.UK more details. If everyone in your home is a student or severely mentally impaired, you won’t need to pay any council tax.

young muslim woman

If someone has moved out, tell the council as this might change your eligibility. If you are entitled to a discount as a result, it will be valid from the date when the person moved out, even if you told the council after, and the reduction may be backdated and sent to you. If you think you might be eligible you should apply to your local council for a discount as soon as possible as this will help your finances. For Bucks the webpage is https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/council-tax/contact-us-about-council-tax/ or you can call 0300 131 6000.

If you live with other adults one person will need to be the named contact for the council tax payment- but there is no reason why the cost should not be split between you. Only the person who is named on the bill should apply for any reductions however.

One thing everybody can do which may be of help is to ask to spread the payments across 12 months instead of the automatic 10. You should be given the option to do this with your April bill and you will need to ask to do this ASAP.

You mention that your income hasn’t increased. If you are on a low income you might be able to get your council tax reduced due to that. In Bucks you will need to make an online application (same webpage as above) to the council who will ask for details about your income and your circumstances. It is possible to get this backdated.

If you’re under State Pension age, the ‘working age rules’ apply and you may get a discount if you are on the following benefits:

If you’ve reached State Pension age the ‘pension age’ rules apply and you may get a discount due to that.

All can be check on GOV.UK, using an entitled to calculator or by getting in touch with the council.

Even if none of the reduction criteria applies to you, Bucks council can still reduce your council tax bill or cancel it altogether, this is called ‘discretionary reduction’. They’ll normally only do this if you can show that you’re suffering severe hardship and can’t afford to pay council tax. If you’re in this situation you should ask your local council for help. You’ll need to show them evidence of your circumstances. If your immigration status doesn’t let you claim public funds, you can still apply for a discretionary reduction. A discretionary reduction doesn’t count as public funds.

We know that times are incredibly tough and council tax is a priority bill so it’s important to keep in contact with your council if you can’t keep up payments. Citizens Advice Bucks is here to help you find a way forward, without judgement, working with you side by side. We are a local charity that provides free, impartial and confidential advice on any problem you might face.

We also run a free Money Matters course where you can learn about things such as budgeting and how to make the most of your money and look after your finances. You can find out more about this here https://citizensadvicebucks.org.uk/money-matters or call 01494 452316

Translate »
Skip to content