We can give people on low incomes help to pay their Council Tax. In this borough this is known as Council Tax Support.
What's new for Council Tax Support in 2019-20?
On 12 February 2019, the Council decided to make some changes to Runnymede's Council Tax Support Scheme. The changes will take place from 1 April 2019 with those most in need still protected, though to a lesser extent. The changes will only affect those applicants of working age.
Whilst ensuring those most in need can still claim full council tax support, the changes to the relief we provide from April 2019 are:
The vulnerable will pay at least 10% of the charge
Council Tax Support entitlement calculated at less than £10.00 per week will not be paid, except for those classed as vulnerable - the previous level of £5.00 per week will be maintained
Earnings disregards will be reduced by £5.00 per week - matching the levels in the Housing Benefit scheme
Allowed temporary absence outside of the UK will be reduced to four weeks - matching the Housing Benefit scheme
Entitlement to Council Tax Support will be withdrawn entirely for those in properties in Bands F, G and H
The capital limit will be reduced from £16,000 to £10,000 - except for the vulnerable
A Minimum Income Floor will be introduced for those who are self-employed, along with a one-year start up period
Non-dependent deductions will be increased to match the levels set by the Government in the Prescribed Requirements
Entitlement to the Family Premium will be restricted for new Council Tax Support applications received from 1 April 2019
As well as the above, the rules of the scheme have been clarified with regards to the calculation of the income and applicable amount for those applicants in receipt of Universal Credit. The rules have also been updated so that a claim for Universal Credit can be taken as an initial claim for Council Tax Support.
What has not changed?
War Pensions will continue to be disregarded in full
Child Benefit and child maintenance will continue to be disregarded in full
Those of pension age will continue to be protect from all changes
The rules of the Council Tax Support Scheme for those of pension age are statutory and are applied in accordance with legislation.
How did the scheme change before April 2019?
Our previous Council Tax Support scheme for people of working age was introduced on 1 April 2013. It was based on the old Council Tax Benefit scheme, but with a number of changes:
Council Tax Support was restricted to the maximum of the Band D charge
With the exception of those classed as vulnerable, everyone must pay at least 20% of the charge
Council Tax Support entitlement calculated at less than £5.00 per week was not paid
Second Adult Rebate was withdrawn
Backdating was reduced from six months to three months
Earnings disregards were increased by £5.00 per week
Full protection from any changes was given to those who qualify for the Sever or Enhanced Disability Premiums (the 'vulnerable')
Whilst some aspects of the scheme changed, some remained the same:
The capital limit was maintained at £16,000
War Pensions continued to be disregarded in full
Child Benefit and child maintenance continued to be disregarded
Who can claim Council Tax Support?
Anyone who has to pay council tax can claim Council Tax Support.
- have a partner, or be single
- be a pensioner
- be employed or self employed
- get other Social Security benefits
- working age people with more than £10,000 in savings (£16,000 for the vulnerable) may not get Council Tax Support, even if their income is low
- pensioners with more than £16,000 may not get Council Tax Support even if their income is low
- full-time students cannot claim Council Tax Support unless they are:
- lone parents
- receiving Income Support
- receiving Universal Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance Income Related - known as ESA (IR)
- Income Based Job Seekers Allowance - known as JSA (IB)
- or they have a partner and have dependent children or are responsible for a child boarded out with them
If you have come to the United Kingdom (UK) within 5 years of your claim, this may also affect your entitlement.
Some asylum seekers and people who are sponsored to be in the UK, cannot get Council Tax Support.
How do I claim Council Tax Support?
You can claim Council Tax Support any time.
Do not delay in making a claim or you may lose some Council Tax Support.
All applicants will be required to provide original documents to confirm the details on the form and prove their identity.
The following list show examples of the documents we will accept:
- Bank statements, last 2 months itemised
- Birth certificate
- Credit cards
- Divorce papers
- Driving licence (full)
- Life assurance policies
- Life insurance policies
- Medical card
- National insurance card
- Passport, current and valid
- UK residence permit
- Utility bill, paid and in your name for the last quarter
- Wage slips from current employer
When do I claim Council Tax Support?
Claim Council Tax Support as soon as you think you need help with your council tax.
Council Tax Support is usually paid from the Monday after the date you claim. We cannot normally backdate claims.
If you know your circumstances are going to change - possibly your income will be going down or you will be taking on a new tenancy soon, you can claim up to 13 weeks before you need help.
If you move home, it is important that you claim Council Tax Support within the first week of your tenancy starting.
You must complete the council tax support application form [690.34KB] in full, sign it and include evidence to support your claim.
You can get a copy of this form from the civic centre if you do not have access to a printer.
Even if you do not have all the evidence asked for on the form return it anyway. You can provide the missing evidence as soon as possible afterwards.
If your claim is successful, you will be notified in writing, your council tax bill will be reduced and you will be sent a new one.
We can backdate your claim up to three months if you can show 'good cause' for not claiming earlier. 'Good cause' could be if:
- You were ill and nobody could claim for you
- You were in hospital
- You were waiting for a decision on another benefit
- You did not understand you could claim - perhaps because of age, inexperience, language problems, or difficulty understanding technical documents
- You could not manage your own affairs
- A close relative died.
How do we work out your Council Tax Support?
The Council Tax Support application form you fill in asks all the questions that we need answered to work out if you qualify for support.
How much Council Tax Support you get depends on:
- Your savings, money you have coming in, money you need to live on, council tax you pay and any other adults who may live in your home.
- If you have a partner, we must also take account of their personal details.
If you and/or your partner are of working age and have saving and investments totaling more than £10,000 (£16,000 if you are classed as vulnerable) you might not get Council Tax Support.
If you and/or your partner are of pension age and have savings and investments totaling more than £16,000 you might not get Council Tax Support.
For pensioners £10,000 is disregarded and for every £500 we must add £1 onto your weekly income. We ignore any actual interest your savings earn.
How much money you have coming in
The money you and your family have coming in may be earnings or unearned income, such as social security benefits or a pension from work.
We can ignore certain parts of your income, such as Disability Living Allowance or War Pensions. However, you must still tell us about them.
How much money you need to live on
Our Council Tax Support scheme sets the minimum level of income you must have after paying your rent. This is called your applicable amount. Your applicable amount is made up of Personal Allowances and Premiums.
Personal Allowances depend on:
- your age
- whether you are single or have a partner
- how many dependent children you have and their age
Premiums recognise that some people have special or extra needs, such as:
- elderly people
- people with a disability
- carers - people who look after sick and disabled people
We add the personal allowances and premiums together to give the amount of money you need to live on. We cannot alter them.
The amount of council tax you pay
The amount of council tax you have to pay is shown on a council tax bill, which the council will send you. The bill will show you the gross council tax and any discounts or reductions that you are entitled to. If you are already getting Council Tax Support, this will be shown as a reduction on your bill.
Working out your Council Tax Support:
Maximum Council Tax Support
The amount of Council Tax Support paid can in certain circumstances be up to the total of your council tax bill. However, the actual amount you will receive depends on:
- the council tax valuation band that your home is in,
- your age,
- other adults who live with you. If you have other adults living in your home, they may be expected to pay something towards the council tax.
The rules say we must make fixed deductions from the net council tax. In some situations, no deductions are made. If you would like more information please contact us.
If you get Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), you will get help with all your eligible council tax, less any deduction for other adults living with you.
If you get Income Support, ESA (IR) or JSA (IB) you will get help with up to 80% (90% for those classed as vulnerable) of your eligible council tax, less any deduction for other adults living with you.
If you don't get Income Support, ESA (IR), JSA (IB) or Pension Credit, we compare your weekly income against your applicable amount. If your income is less than your applicable amount, we help with up to the maximum percentage of your eligible council tax, less any deduction for other adults living with you.
If your income is more than your applicable amount, the help we give with your eligible council tax (less any deduction for other adults) goes down on a sliding scale of 20p for each £1 difference.
Second Adult Rebate
If you are a pensioner and you do not get Council Tax Support in your own right, you may be able to get a Second Adult Rebate.
If you have someone over 18 who is sharing your home and:
- is not paying your rent
- is not your spouse or partner
- does not have to pay the council tax
- has a low gross income
you may be able to claim a rebate for that person. We do not count your own income and savings for this.
For example, if you are single and have to pay council tax and a relative comes to live with you, you may be able to claim a Second Adult Rebate for him or her.
If you qualify for Second Adult Rebate and Council Tax Support, we compare the two amounts and award you the higher one. We will tell you when we do this.
What if I disagree with the way you work out my Council Tax Support?
Ask us to look at your Council Tax Support if you think we are wrong.
To do this, write to us saying you want a review of your case and give all your reasons why. Once we have looked at your case, we write to you and tell you the outcome.
If you still think we are wrong, you can ask for your case to be looked at by an independent tribunal. To do this, you should write and tell us that you want your case passed to the Valuation Tribunal Service.
If you want to know more about appeals, please contact us.
How do we pay Council Tax Support?
If you pay council tax, we normally send you a council tax bill showing your Council Tax Support entitlement. You then only pay the reduced amount. This means you will not actually get any money, but your council tax will be less.
Whilst you receive Council Tax Support, you must tell us immediately about any changes to the information you gave us on your application form, especially if you stop getting Income Support, ESA (IR) or JSA (IB).
If you don't tell us straight away about any changes, you may get more Council Tax Support than you should. If this happens, we normally ask you to pay it back to us.
Can I get any other financial help?
Housing benefit is paid to people on low income who pay rent. People can claim, whether they are in full time work or get social security benefits.
Local councils deal with housing benefit claims and must follow the rules set out by parliament.
If you want to know more about housing benefit please visit the housing benefit page.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
For more information on DWP benefits, please visit the Department for Work and Pensions or call 0845 608 8757.
For more information on pension credits please visit the Pension Service or call 0800 99 1234.