My council tax bill is coming out soon and I am dreading opening it as it always goes up. My income has stayed the same but everything else is more expensive and I have hardly anything left over – how will I cope if my payments keep going up? 

Many of us are feeling overwhelmed as we see our basic bills and essential costs go up. You’re not alone in finding things difficult and, crucially, there’s support available.  

First off, council tax discounts are available to some people depending on your circumstances. For instance, if you’re the only adult in your home, you should get a 25% discount on your council tax bill.  

When working out how many people live in a property, some people aren’t counted – they’re called ‘disregarded people’ and include under 18s, a student nurse or someone on an apprenticeship scheme and many more. If everyone who lives in the property is disregarded, you will still receive a council tax bill, but it will have a 50% discount. However, if everyone in your home is a student or severely mentally impaired, you won’t pay any council tax.  

Additionally, if someone has moved out, tell the council as this might change your eligibility. If you are entitled to a discount as a result, it will be valid from the date when the person moved out, even if you told the council after the event, and the reduction may be backdated.  

You mention that your income hasn’t increased. If you are on a low income, you might also be able to get your council tax reduced. Your local council will ask you details about your income and your circumstances, so they can work out if you’re entitled to a council tax reduction. They will then calculate your new bill and tell you how much council tax you need to pay.  

You may also be eligible for additional support if you’ve reached State Pension age, though the ‘working age rule’ will still apply if you or your partner receive certain benefits including:  

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 
  • Income Support 

Even if none of the reduction criteria applies to you, your local council can still reduce your council tax bill or cancel it altogether, this is called ‘discretionary reduction’. They’ll normally only do this if you can show that you’re suffering severe hardship and can’t afford to pay council tax. 

We know that times are incredibly tough and council tax is a priority bill so it’s important to keep in contact with your council if you can’t keep up payments.