Discretionary Council Tax Reduction Frequently Asked Questions

What is Discretionary Council Tax Reduction?

The Council Tax Reduction Discretionary Scheme can help Council Tax Payers who are in financial need and who arent able to receive that help from the main Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

Discretionary Council Tax Reduction is designed to meet the needs of vulnerable people and help to alleviate child poverty by:

  • Easing severe financial pressure on families and individuals who circumstances are such that they incur essential additional day to day living costs, which they are unable to meet from their income.
  • Helping local people through personal crises and difficult events.
  • Ensuring that pensioners receiving a war pension are not adversely affected financially by the abolition of Council Tax Benefit.
  • Supporting young people leaving care in the transition to adult life.
  • Encouraging and sustaining people in employment.

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What are the qualifying criteria?

The applicant must be registered as the liable person for Council Tax – they do not have to be in receipt of Local Council Tax Reduction.

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What can be covered?

  • The difference between the amount of Council Tax charged per day and the amount of local Council Tax Reduction awarded.
  • If you are not in receipt of local Council Tax Reduction, up to the daily Council Tax charged.

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What cannot be covered?

  • Recovery costs.
  • Charges relating to unoccupied homes

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How is a claim made?

A claim will normally be made on the form provided by the Council although in certain circumstances a claim can be made electronically or by telephone.

Apply online for Discretionary Council Tax Reduction 

or print and complete the Discretionary Council Tax Reduction Application Form (PDF, 95KB)

If Council Tax Reduction is in payment then Discretionary Council Tax Reduction may be awarded without an application although it is likely that further information will be required. If Council Tax Reduction is not in payment then an application will always be required

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Who can make a claim?

The claim should normally be made by the person liable for council tax, however a claim could be received from a person acting on their behalf, such as an appointee or advocate, if the customer is vulnerable and requires support.

Due to the nature of the information required, the applicant may be contacted in person or by telephone to obtain sufficient information to enable a decision to be made.

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What information will be required?

  • A full income and expenditure statement
  • Are there other debts to pay?
  • Has debt advice been sought?
  • Have arrangements been made to renegotiate non-priority debts?
  • Have all other benefits been claimed?
  • Are there any capital/savings or disregarded income (not taken into account in the calculation of local Council Tax Reduction) that could be used to make up the shortfall?
  • Is there spending on non-essential items (such as smoking, subscription services, etc.) that could be used to pay household bills

Are there any addition living costs? These could be due to;

  • additional travel to work costs due to distance, availability of public transport or unusual shift patterns (e.g. split shift)
  • additional expenditure, such as travel, heating or clothing costs due to disability.
  • additional dietary needs due to a medical condition of a member of the household.

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Will medical circumstances be taken into account?

  • We will take into account if any members of the household have any health or support needs
  • We will also take into account if there any additional costs over and above normal day to day living expenses associated with the medical condition

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What other circumstances may be taken into account?

  • Whether the applicant is attending a training scheme or undertaking voluntary work to enhance their skills; enabling them to seek employment or increase the chances of obtaining employment?
  • Whether the applicant is undertaking care duties for a relative (excluding own dependant children living with them) who lives in the neighbourhood? How does this impact on them? e.g. unable to increase working hours, additional travel costs, etc.
  • Could the award be used to encourage the applicant to remain in employment e.g. benefit trap where they may be better off on benefit rather than in work.
  • Whether there is anybody else in the household who could contribute
  • Any other factors that identify a need for short-term financial assistance.
  • Can the difficulty with payment be classed as “can’t pay” rather than “won’t pay”

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For how long will an award be given?

The period and amount of the award will be decided by the Council. This will be normally to the end of the financial year (31st March) but may be for a shorter period

In deciding the period of the award the Council will:

  • Take into account the likelihood of a change of circumstances.
  • Any exceptional circumstances

The Council may revise an award, either upward or downward, if the applicants circumstances change.

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What happens if I don’t agree with the Council’s decision?

  • If the applicant (or representative)want an explanation of a decision they may request one in writing within one calendar month of notification of the decision.
  • If the applicant (or representative)who disagrees with a decision they may ask for the decision to be reconsidered within one calendar month of the decision being notified to the applicant
  • Any appeal or request must give reasons why it is believed our decision is incorrect or why they are unhappy with the decision
  • The decision may be explained verbally or in writing.
  • Further information may be requested from the applicant and this must be supplied within one month
  • If the original decision is not revised the council will provide full written reasons

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How will payments be made?

All awards will be credited to the Council Tax account.

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Last Updated: 27 August 2021