Discounts and Exemptions

Important Changes affecting Council Tax Exemptions and Discounts

Council tax is administered under central government regulations. With the introduction of the Localism Act, new powers have been delegated to local authorities. In addition, The Local Government Finance 2012 changes legislation to some exemptions and discretionary discounts. This will come into effect from 1 April 2013.  The main areas of change are:

  • abolish the exemption that is currently available for up to 12 months in respect of an empty property which requires or is undergoing major structural repair or alteration to render it habitable (Class A)
  • abolish the exemption that is currently available for up to six months after a dwelling becomes unoccupied and unfurnished (Class C)
  • remove the discount for second homes which is currently 10 per cent . These properties will in future pay full council tax
  • remove the discount for all long-term empty properties which is currently 10 per cent . These properties will in future pay full council tax

Other discounts and exemptions are not affected by these changes.

Our Policy

Our new policies with effect from 1 April 2013 for 2013/14 are:

  • award no discretionary discount for Class A and Class C properties.
  • remove the current 10 per cent discount for second homes.
  • remove the current per cent discount for all long-term empty properties.

Why we need to make changes

The Royal Borough has made these changes for the following reasons:

  • to  support its housing policy, which is to encourage owners to bring under-occupied properties back into use in view of the housing shortage in London;
  • to discourage property owners from leaving properties unoccupied for any length of time in view of the housing shortage in London and opportunity cost to the local economy.
  • to spread the costs of Council services over a wider tax base so the Council Tax can be lower for residents for any given level of expenditure.

Information on who is entitled to a discount

The basic Council Tax charge is based on two or more adults living in the property. If you are the only adult resident in a property you will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount, which should have been applied to your bill if we already know that you live alone. Your bill will not increase if there are more than two adults living in the property.

Full list of persons entitled to discount:

  • full-time students, student nurses, apprentices and those on Youth Training courses
  • people in hospital
  • people being cared for in residential homes, nursing homes, hospices, mental nursing homes and hostels providing a high level of care
  • people who are severely mentally impaired
  • people kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • people in certain night shelters
  • monks and nuns
  • students who are 19 or who have just left school
  • care workers on low pay and usually working for charity, such as Community Service volunteers
  • people caring for someone with a disability, other than a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • convicted prisoners and those on remand, except those who are in jail for not paying fines or Council Tax

You may need to provide us with evidence before we grant the discount.

What if all the residents are discounted?

Then a 50 per cent discount may apply. If you are not sure you should contact the Council.

Empty properties

Properties exempt from council tax

Council tax is not charged on certain properties - ‘exempt properties’. The classes of property exempt from council tax are shown below. If you think that your property falls into any of these classes please contact us. You may need to provide us with evidence before we grant the exemption.

  • Class B - Empty properties owned by a registered charity, for a maximum of six months
  • Class D - Empty properties which were lived in by people now in prison or otherwise legally detained
  • Class E - Empty properties which were lived in by people who now permanently live in a hospital or home
  • Class F - Empty properties where the only person who lived there has died
  • Class G - Empty properties where the law prevents anyone from living there
  • Class H - Empty properties held vacant for a Minister of Religion
  • Class I - Empty properties which were lived in by people who are now receiving personal care in a place other than a hospital or home
  • Class J - Empty properties which were lived in by people who are now living elsewhere for the purpose of providing personal care
  • Class K - Empty properties which were lived in by students or people who will become students within six weeks of leaving the property
  • Class L - Empty properties which have been repossessed
  • Class M - Student halls of residence
  • Class N - Properties occupied entirely by full time students
  • Class O - Ministry of Defence barracks and married quarters
  • Class P - Visiting forces accommodation
  • Class Q - Empty properties left by someone who has become bankrupt
  • Class R - Empty caravan pitches or boat moorings
  • Class S - Properties only lived in by people under the age of 18
  • Class T - Empty parts of single properties which cannot be let separately
  • Class U - Properties which are lived in only by people who are severely mentally impaired
  • Class V - Properties which are only lived in by foreign diplomats
  • Class W - Parts of properties which are only lived in by the elderly or disabled relatives of those living in the rest of the property

Disabled Relief Scheme

You may be able to pay less council tax under the disabled band reduction scheme if your home has had work carried out on it to help you or someone else living there with a disability. This scheme reduces the council tax payable by disabled people who live in a larger property than they would have needed if they were not disabled. However, having a disability does not automatically entitle you to a reduction.

Can I qualify for a disabled band reduction?

In summary, 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 the following:

  • 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.

Please note 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 happens if my home meets these criteria?

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 will still receive a reduction. It will be the same in cash terms as the reductions for homes in Band B, C or D. If you would like further details please contact Council Tax Services.