Council Tax: Exemptions and support to pay
You may be entitled to a council tax exemption or support to pay your bill if you're suffering from a mental health illness. Find out how.
Exemption due to severe mental impairment
The local authority can decide you do not need to pay council tax – this is called exemption.
The council tax rules say that a person is exempt from council tax if they have a ‘severe mental impairment’. It says that ‘a person is severely mentally impaired if they have a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent’.
To get this, you need a doctor to sign a medical certificate that says you are severely mentally impaired, and you need to get one of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance with the middle or highest rate care component,
- Personal Independence Payment Daily Living Component (standard or enhanced rate),
- Attendance Allowance,
- Severe Disablement Allowance,
- Employment and Support Allowance,
- Incapacity Benefit,
- Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance with a disability premium,
- Working Tax Credit with the disability element.
How do I know if I am eligible for a council tax exemption?
If you think several of the points below apply to you, we would advise applying for a council tax exemption.
Mental health condition
- Do you have a severe and enduring mental illness, such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder?
- Does your mental health condition mean your thinking is disordered or slow?
- Do you have a small social circle, and find it difficult to trust people?
- Do you claim PIP and score points for question 11 (Engaging with other people face to face)?
- This is a good indicator that your condition is impacting on your social functioning.
- If you claim ESA or Universal Credit, did you score points on the questions about learning tasks, coping with social situations and/or appropriateness of behaviour?
- If so, this is a good indicator that you might be eligible for council tax exemption.
- Is your psychiatrist willing to confirm that your mental illness is impacting on your cognitive and social functioning?
- Your psychiatrist is a registered medical professional and will understand how your condition affects you more than your GP.
Social care services
- If you are receiving social care services to support your mental wellbeing, we recommend asking your social worker if they would assist with your claim for exemption.
Support paying your Council Tax bill
You may be entitled to help with your council tax payments if you are liable for council tax and are on a low income or claim benefits. Your local authority runs these schemes and there are three schemes for reducing council tax. You can get help if you're eligible:
- The Council Tax Reduction Scheme
- The Discount Scheme
- The Disability Reduction Scheme
Council Tax Reduction Scheme
The Council Tax Reduction Scheme replaced the national Council Tax Benefit on 1st April 2013. Your local authority, through their local scheme, manages council tax support. The reduction may cover some, or all, of your council tax bill, but this will depend on your household income.
How much help you can get with your council tax will depend on your local scheme. The government has reduced the money available to local authorities by 10% - this may mean that many working-age people will have to pay towards their council tax to make up the difference.
It is important to make sure that your council tax bill is correct – you may be able to get your bill reduced if you live alone or you are very unwell. Contact your local Citizens Advice for more information about the scheme in your area.
You should get a single person’s discount on your council tax bill if you are the only adult living in a property – this will reduce the bill by 25%. You will get this discount if the other people you live with do not have to pay council tax, so this might be if they are students or exempt due to a severe mental impairment.
Disability Reduction Scheme
You may be able to get the council tax bill reduced if you or a person that lives with you needs extra space because of a disability; this reduction would be down to the next band. For example, you would be charged the band B rate if your property were in band C.
To qualify for the disabled band reduction, you would have to show that the property is the main home for at least one disabled person. This does not have to be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax.
The property must have an extra room to meet the needs of the disabled person. If the room is not a kitchen or bathroom, it must be needed by the disabled person, otherwise you need an extra space to allow for wheelchair use.
You should contact the local authority that issues your council tax bill if you think you qualify for a band reduction.
Paul lives with his wife and nine-year old child. He has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has flashbacks. He is very restless and can’t sleep at night, which can disturb his family’s work and school life. He goes to art therapy every week. Paul uses a spare room in his house to paint and sculpt, which he finds calming. The room has everything he needs to do his art, somewhere to rest and an en-suite bathroom. He can try to relax when he can’t sleep or is feeling unwell without disturbing his family. The house is in Council Tax band C and costs £1,202.95 per year, but as the Local Authority agreed that Paul qualifies for the council tax reduction scheme, his bill is reduced to the band B rate of £1,052.57.
- What you're entitled to
- Universal Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Incapacity Benefit
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Working Tax Credits
- Personal Independence Payment
- Housing Benefit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Council Tax: Exemptions and support
- Social Fund
- Next steps