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Council Tax Reduction

wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
@ScopeHelpline Do you have anyone who knows about Council Tax issues? I am confused as we are a couple with one of us (me) disabled and on PIP and also severely mentally impaired with Complex PTSD. Martin Lewis was talking about a 25% discount on Council Tax but we already get more than that off because of my disabilities. I rang the council yesterday and they're sending a form to fill in and then get signed by the Doctor to confirm I have a severe mental impairment but I don't want to apply if it's going to increase what we now pay rather than decrease. While I was on the phone they offered to decrease it even more so should we stick with this or will the severe mental impairment mean we don't have to pay any council tax?   

Replies

  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    I'm now getting help from CAB with this.  
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @wildlife Apologies that no one has got back to you on this matter, our benefits advisors are really busy at the moment.  Glad to hear you are getting support from the CAB and sorry we couldnt be of more help.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    @Sam_Scope That's OK I know they're busy. I didn't mean to post that I hadn't had help just that things had progressed. I'm waiting for a form from the Council Tax Office which I'm hoping will have an explanation as to what we can claim. If not I will try and contact Debbie as this is her speciality I think. Thanks for replying.. 
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Oh I know you werent complaining @wildlife but I still wanted to apologise for not getting back to you! :)@Debbie_Scope is great isnt she, Im sure she will be able to help if you need her.  Good luck!
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,679Member Pioneering
    Hi wildlife, 

    The way the 25% discount works is like this: if your full Council Tax is £1,000 a year, the 25% discount would take your liability down to £750 a year. 
    Then, if you are on a low income, you may get Council Tax Reduction on the amount that you are now liable for based on the means-tested calculation that your council uses. CTR is now a local scheme, not a national one so it could/will differ from one Local Authority to another. I can't see how you would pay more, but it may be that you won't get as much more off than you would hope.

    Lee
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    edited December 2017
    Thank-you. Our Council Tax should be £1241 a year and up to a phone call I made last week we only pay £21 a month so already a good discount as a result of my PIP award last year. After asking them about the 25% I was offered a further reduction but we're not sure if that's for 12 months or the 10 months we're paying it for now. So I suspect you're right and we should stick with what we've got. They agreed to look at Complex PTSD as a reason for the reduction but I only have impairment of social functioning not Mental Impairment so I doubt my GP would sign a certificate they've sent. It's all a bit complicated. I think I'll email them to clarify what our current payments will be from now on and for how many months just to check I've not messed up what we already had in place.       
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,679Member Pioneering
    wildlife,

    As Lee says, there are two steps to getting help with council tax. First of all, you can reduce your liability - how much you have to pay BEFORE your income is looked at. Your liability can be reduced because you are the sole adult (or the sole adult to be taken into account) - that's the 25%. From what you've said I don't think you would be entitled to that because I don't think either of you would be treated as if you are living on your own (because of the conditions for the 'severe mental impairment' category), but it was definitely worth a try. However there are other reductions too - for disabled people, you can get council tax based on a lower band property if your home has been adapted, has an extra bathroom, or has enough indoor space for you to use a wheelchair.

    Severe mental impairment is defined as the severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent. 

    If the local authority do agree to give you the severe mental impairment reduction (which will depend on what your GP does with the certificate, as you point out) then as Lee says you won't pay more. The way it would work would be from that the liability you've had before (which I suspect was a reduction putting you in a lower band), 25% would be taken off.

    After your liability has been reduced as much as possible based on your circumstances, council tax reduction or council tax support may apply. That is an income-based benefit worked out by the council, and is different in different local authorities. It may be worth applying for this - it is a separate application, although if you get any housing benefit you usually will have applied for it at the same time. When you get further details from the council you might want to check if you have applied for this, and if not, whether you would get any help - they should be able to tell you (although the benefits calculator will also check council tax reduction, you would need to be clear about what reductions you'd had on your liability first, including what band you are in).

    I've assumed in this advice that you live in England. Things are slightly different in Scotland and Wales, so let us know if you don't live in England! I hope this helps.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • Debbie_ScopeDebbie_Scope Posts: 947Member Pioneering
    Hi @wildlife,

    Complicated isn't it!

    If you live alone and you have a severe mental impairment, there is potential for you to be exempt from paying council tax altogether. If you're part of a couple and one of you has a severe mental impairment you would qualify for a 25% reduction.

    The question is whether all of the discounts can be added together, and that part isn't clear. I'll look into but the answer may lie with your council as all council tax policies are made locally. Let us know how you get on with this and if I find anything which suggests you can have multiple discounts I'll let you know. 

    Best wishes
    Debbie
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    Thanks @Debbie_Scope, We had a revised bill through today except that it isn't revised at all. All they've done is spread our 2 remaining payments of £21 after which we would have 2 months without paying anything over 4 months of 4 payments £9 then £11 for 3 months so exactly the same to pay. The other complication is that the criteria for the 25% discount mentions a severe impairment of both intelligence and social functioning, I have the latter but not the other so doubt my GP would sign the cirtificate they've sent me. I've emailed them to ask for clarification and will let you know what happens. They don't seem to know what they're doing on this so hope I get some answers.
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    @Debbie_Scope I've just had a call from Council Tax at Wilts. council and they've told me that either a severe disablement in social function or the same regarding intelligence count and if I get my GP to sign the form they've sent me they will give us a reduction of 25% of what we're paying now which is already reduced for being on benefit. So worth knowing and worth applying for..
  • Debbie_ScopeDebbie_Scope Posts: 947Member Pioneering
    Hi @wildlife,

    Great news! It answers the question about whether you can have multiple discounts too. I hadn't got round to finding a definitive answer as yet but I would expect that multiple discounts can apply.

    It's absolutely worth knowing and worth applying for and I hope others reading this are now aware of the help available. Well done for getting all of this sorted out and for sharing with us, it's so helpful.

    I hope you're well and everything else is ok.

    Best wishes
    Debbie
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    Hi @Debbie_Scope Things haven't worked out how I hoped. I took the form and Council information in to my surgery with a hand written note from me explaining I had spoken to the council and been assured they would look at other conditions as well as Dementia, Alzheimers and Stroke and that it was one or the other as mentioned above either severe mental impairment of intelligence or social function. I have been honest all along and been told by 2 different council tax workers that they would look at my claim for this discount and action it on condition the Doctor signed the certificate. My Doctor took it upon herself to ring the council and was told it was a degenerative brain condition I had to have like the 3 conditions mentioned on the certificate. She rang me when I was out saying she had returned the form unsigned as I didn't meet the criteria. It appears she was told one thing and I was told something different which has left me feeling a bit of an idiot and that I'm trying to get something I'm not entitled to. I will ring the Council Tax office next week to suggest they get their act together and decide a fair and consistent criteria for this discount which I've now ruled out for me to be able to claim. My problem is severe social impairment due to Complex PTSD which I suppose they could say isn't permanent even though for me it is.   
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