THOUSANDS of people on Universal Credit could get up to £2,065 off an essential household bill.
Those claiming Universal Credit might be able to apply for a council tax discount.
The support is for those on low incomes and claiming Universal Credit and other benefits.
Council tax is one of the biggest household bills and the most important – if you fall behind you could be asked to pay the entire year upfront.
Non-payment can also result in bailiffs visiting your home, court action or even imprisonment.
But many people may not realise they're eligible for a reduction, or could even get the balance paid off in full – if they get Universal Credit.
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If you qualify for the discount, then you could get this amount wiped entirely.
Who is eligible for a council tax discount?
What support you can get depends on your circumstances and where you live, as each council decides what help to offer those in its area.
Factors that will determine how much of a discount you can get include your household income, whether you have children, and if you receive any benefits.
For example, one of the most expensive areas for council tax is in Rutland, where some households will be paying a huge £4,893 a year.
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The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.
For example, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council is offering households who receive Council Tax Support an automatic £25 discount off their bill.
While Sandwell Council is offering up to 50% off for residents – the average bill for residents is £1,831 so households could get £915 whacked off their bill.
And those living in the district of West Devon could get up to 85% off their bill.
The average bill in Devon is £1,634 and if you qualify for 85% off, you could get £1,388 knock off the yearly bill.
Bear in mind the exact amount you could save depends on your bill and what your council offers.
You can check out when you might get a council tax discount in our guide or contact your local council to check what support you can claim and apply.
For more information on the various discounts available, see our handy guide here.
What other support is available?
If you live on your own, you can get 25% off your council tax bill.
This also applies if there is one adult and one student living together in a property, or if there is one adult and one person classed as severely mentally impaired in the home.
If you live with someone who doesn't have to pay council tax, such as a carer or someone who is severely mentally impaired, you could get a larger reduction too, of up to 50%.
And, if you live in an all-student household, you could get a 100% discount.
A full list of circumstances that exempt you from paying council tax can be found on Citizens Advice.
Pensioners may also find themselves eligible for a council tax reduction.
If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you could get a 100% discount.
If not, you could still get help if you have a low income and less than £16,000 in savings.
And a pensioner who lives alone will be entitled to a 25% discount too.
Challenge your band
You might be able to reduce the amount of council tax you pay by challenging your band.
Properties across the UK are put into a band from A to H, and this informs how much council tax you pay.
The bands were created based on property values back in 1991, so many households may find that based on today's prices, they should be in a different band.
It's worth checking yours to see if you could get a discount.
First, you need to find out what band you are in.
You can find this out by checking with your local authority or on the postcode checker.
Use the council tax band checker tool to see which band properties along your street are in.
If they are in a lower band than you are, you could successfully make a challenge and get yours lowered.
How do I challenge it?
Contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland to do this.
Gather together evidence showing you're paying more – this could be having addresses of similar properties to yours in a lower band, for example.
If the VOA agrees that your property is in the wrong band, it will contact you to let you know your band will be changed.
It can take up to two months for the VOA to review your case.
But be warned – challenging your band might not work.
While you could get moved to a lower band and pay less, there's also the chance the VOA could find you're not paying enough.
This could mean you're moved to a higher band – and your neighbours' too.
If you disagree with the VOA's ruling, you can appeal your case – but only if you've been told that you can when you get the decision.
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You must appeal within three months of your decision – to do this, get in touch with the Valuation Tribunal Service.
If the Valuation Tribunal agrees with you, it will get the VOA to change your band – and your bill will change.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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