Council Tax reduction for the disabled
You may be entitled to a reduction in Council Tax if you are disabled or have a disabled person living with you.
Disabled band reduction scheme
The disabled band reduction scheme aims to ensure that disabled people do not pay more Council Tax because they live in a larger property than they would have needed if they were not disabled.
Having a disability does not automatically entitle you to a reduction.
The requirements for a reduction are that the property must be the main residence of at least one disabled person and it must have at least one of:
* an additional bathroom or kitchen,
* any other room (not being a toilet) which is mainly used by the disabled person, or
* enough space for the use of a wheelchair - if the wheelchair is for outdoor use only, this will not count
The room or the wheelchair must also be essential or of major importance to the disabled person's well-being, due to the nature and extent of their disability.
'Disabled person' in this context means a person who is substantially and permanently disabled. The disabled person can be either an adult or a child and does not have to be responsible for paying the Council Tax bill.
An extra room does not need to have been specially built, but your home will not qualify for a reduction unless the 'essential or of major importance' test above is met.
Simply rearranging rooms (for example, having a bedroom on the ground floor rather than the first floor) is unlikely to make your home eligible for a reduction.
What reduction you may get
If your home is eligible, your bill will be reduced to that of a property in the next Council Tax band down. For example, a Band D property will be charged a Band C rate. Even if your property is in Band A (the lowest band) you may still receive a reduction.
It will be the same in cash terms as the reductions for homes in Band B, C or D.
Other Council Tax reductions for disabled people
People who are severely mentally impaired
For Council Tax purposes, a person is severely mentally impaired if they have a severe impairment of intelligence or social functioning which appears to be permanent. To be eligible for a Council Tax reduction, the person will need a doctor's certificate saying that they are severely mentally impaired and to be entitled to one of the following benefits:
* Incapacity Benefit
* Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
* Attendance Allowance
* Constant Attendance Allowance
* Severe Disablement Allowance
* Income Support including a disability premium (this includes anyone whose partner has a disability premium for them including in their income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
* the disability element of Working Tax Credit
If the person is over State Pension age but would have been entitled to one of the above benefits if they were under State Pension age, they may also be eligible for a reduction.
People who are severely mentally impaired are not counted when adding up the number of people in a property. So for example if a husband and wife were living together and one had a severe mental impairment, they would get the usual discount of 25% that a single adult living alone would get.
No Council Tax is payable on a property occupied solely by people with a severe mental impairment.
People in a hospital or care home
No Council Tax is payable on properties left unoccupied by people who have moved to receive personal care, whether in a hospital, care home or elsewhere. Generally speaking, the residents of care homes or those whose main home is a hospital do not have to pay Council Tax.
More details about these arrangements can be found in the leaflet Council tax - a guide to your bill', available from the Department for Communities and Local Government website.
How to apply for a reduction
You should write to or telephone your council if you think you may be entitled to a reduction on your Council Tax. You will need to apply for the reduction; your council will not automatically apply it, even if you receive care and support from social services.
The council will send you a form to fill in and return. You can also find out about, and in some cases apply for, Council Tax reductions on your local council's website.
What happens next
A council officer may make an appointment to see you in your home. All council officers have an identification badge; ask to see it before you let them in. The council officer will make notes on what adaptations you have made to your home (if appropriate), and may want to seeproof of any benefits you receive.
If you don't receive a visit, you may need to prove that you are disabled. You may need to tell the council your social worker's name or provide some paperwork.
If you are not receiving any care from social services your doctor may be able to confirm (in writing) that you are disabled. Usually the council will contact your doctor and ask for information after they receive your application.
If your application is approved
You will see your reduction at the top of your next Council Tax bill.
Normally the reduction is backdated to the date you applied, so it's important to apply for a reduction straight away. Councils may backdate a reduction if you can demonstrate you were entitled to it before you applied.
If your application is refused
If you disagree with the council's decision, you should write to them again setting out why you believe the reduction should apply. The council has two months to change or confirm its decision.
If you still disagree with the decision, or if you don't get a response within two months, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal, which is independent from the council. You should continue to pay your original bill while your appeal is outstanding.
The appeal process is explained in more detail in the leaflet 'Council Tax - a guide to your bill', available from the Department for Communities and Local Government website.
Valuing properties that have been adapted for disabled people
Separate from the Council Tax reductions for disabled people, the rules for valuing properties for Council Tax purposes make special provisions for those adapted for physically disabled people.
When valuing a property for the purpose of determining its Council Tax band any fixture required by a physically disabled person that reduces the value of the property will be taken into account, but anything which increases the value of the property will be disregarded.
Valuations are conducted by the Valuation Office Agency. If you think they may not have not taken into account any special fixtures designed to make your home suitable for independent living when placing it in a valuation band you should contact your local Valuation Office Agency office.
You can find their contact details on the Valuation Office Agency website.