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Martin Lewis puts millions on alert over possible council tax discount

We all like to see our bins collected and roads swept and in turn realise that only coughing up for council tax keeps things ticking over.
But wouldn’t it be nice to see that bill reduced?
Well money man Martin Lewis – the source of so many tips on how…

We all like to see our bins collected and roads swept and in turn realise that only coughing up for council tax keeps things ticking over. But wouldn't it be nice to see that bill reduced? Well money man Martin Lewis - the source of so many tips on how to save cash - reckons a lot of people could well get hundreds of pounds knocked off their council tax bills.

Read more: Motability says thousands of PIP claimants and those on other benefits are missing out on a car According to The Mirror, the MoneySavingExpert founder said the discounts range from 25% off a year to paying nothing at all. The cuts are mostly due to people living alone, with under-18s, students and those on low incomes.

But, crucially, those who believe they are paying too much need to claim these discounts for themselves - and the council will not apply them unless asked. Speaking in this week's newsletter, Martin said: "Live alone or with under-18s, are you a student or on a low income? You may be due a council tax discount worth GBP100s.

"Depending on who lives inside your rented property, you could be due a reduction on your council tax bill - anywhere from 25% off to being entirely 'disregarded for council tax purposes'." See a full list of who qualifies, below.

Single person's discount

Being single can be cheaper for several reasons, but especially when it comes to your council tax bills. If you live alone you get 25% off your council tax.

This also applies if you live alone or are the only eligible adult in the property - perhaps because you live with a child or a student.

Severe mental impairment discount

If someone living at the property has what councils call 'severe mental impairment', they do not have to pay council tax. This list includes people who have had a stroke or have a condition like Parkinson's or severe learning difficulties. They have to be medically proven to have the 'impairment'.

If someone with such a condition lives alone, they pay no tax. If they live with another adult, there is a 25% bill reduction, but if there are two other adults living there then they pay full whack. If someone with a registered condition lives with a full-time carer, the property gets a 50% council tax reduction.

Consumer expert Martin LewisConsumer expert Martin Lewis

Student discount

If a house only has students living there, it pays no council tax.

To qualify, all residents must be on courses lasting at least a year and study for a minimum of 21 hours a week. If one non-student adult move in, the property has to pay 75% council tax - and all residents owe this. Read more: Here's how Stoke-on-Trent homeowners can make GBP8k

Live-in carer discount

There is a 25% discount on offer for those who have a live-in carer.

To qualify, the carer has to look after someone who isn't their partner, spouse or a child for at least 35 hours a week. The person getting the care must also be getting the middle or higher rate of the care component of Disability Care Allowance. However, if the carer looks after someone with a 'severe mental impairment' or a child, the discount is 50%, as both get a 25% reduction.

Other discounts

Properties that have been renovated for someone with a disability get a 25% discount or can drop a council tax band.

If you are on a low income, or claim benefits, you may be eligible for a 100% discount. However, each council runs its own scheme, and the size of any discount depends on factors such as how many children you have, your income and your circumstances. If your household gets pension credits, you can also get a 100% discount.

To be eligible, you or your partner must get the guaranteed element of the over 65s benefit. If you get the savings part of pension credit you might also be eligible for a discount, but this will depend on how much you have put away. Discounts of 100% are also on offer for those renovating their home to make it habitable, and for people with empty homes.

But again, check with your local authority, as different rules apply. Deductions of 50% are possible on granny annexes and second homes that are not normally lived in. To get a discount, contact your local council and ask.

The quickest way is by using the contact details on an old council tax bill.

Are you on the right band?

The UK's outdated council tax system means thousands of people could also be on the wrong tax band - and therefore overpaying as a result. Martin Lewis has previously warned up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland may be in the wrong council tax band, and owed money back after years of overpayments. It all comes back to the initial valuation of homes in the UK after the poll tax was abolished in 1993.

More than twenty-five years later, homes are yet to be re-valued. Read more: Couple's Poundland wedding hack saves them hundreds People are still paying based on the "2nd gear valuations" carried out back then - where valuers would drive past houses in second to allocate bands for entire streets.

There are some basic steps to getting your house re-valued. First, find out what your neighbours are paying - you can do this online at voa.gov.uk. Second, check what your house was worth in 1991 - when the bands were set.

To do this, take the current value and convert to 1991 prices using an online calculator.

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Here are the bands as set in 1991 prices:

  • Band A - Up to and including GBP40,000
  • Band B - GBP40,001 - GBP52,000
  • Band C - GBP52,001 - GBP68,000
  • Band D - GBP68,001 - GBP88,000
  • Band E - GBP88,001 - GBP120,000
  • Band F - GBP120,001 - GBP160,000
  • Band G - GBP160,001 - GBP320,000
  • Band H - More than GBP320,000

If it falls into a different band to what you're paying you can apply for a re-valuation.

Only apply if both checks work - as you can only apply to have it revalued, not lowered, and there's a chance yours could go up.

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