In this edition of our advice blog, Welfare Benefits Advisor Jen Kelly outlines how the RAF Family can make sure they are maximising their income, particularly in relation to Council Tax.
We have recently updated our booklet Maximising your income and reducing your outgoings. This booklet provides tips and guidance on how to maximise your income by reducing your expenditure and ensuring you are claiming/receiving the correct entitlements and discounts.
Council Tax Reduction
Each council will have a scheme called Council Tax Reduction (or Support), which can help low income households with their Council Tax.
Council Tax Discounts
Sometimes a Council Tax discount can be applied to a property: if only one person is seen to be living there the discount is 25%, and if no one is there it is 50%. Certain people can be ‘disregarded’ (not seen to be living there), and for some general information on this see page 5 of the booklet.
For a carer to be ‘disregarded’ they have to be caring for someone they live with (other than their partner/spouse, or their child if the child is under 18) for at least 35 hours a week. In addition, the person being cared for has to get: the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (only the higher rate in Scotland), the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (only the enhanced rate in Scotland), Attendance Allowance (only the higher rate in Scotland), Armed Forces Independence Payment or the highest rate of Constant Attendance Allowance.
For someone to be considered ‘severely mentally impaired’ they need a certificate from a medical professional, and they have to get one of a number of health related benefits, including (but not limited to) the ones above.
Council Tax Exemptions
Sometimes properties can be exempt from Council Tax. Examples include: if the only person(s) who live in the property are ‘severely mentally impaired’; or if the person who normally lives in the property has left it empty because they are now living in a care home or because they are now caring for someone.
Disability Reduction Scheme
The Disability Reduction Scheme may apply if someone who lives in a property is disabled, and if the property has enough space for a wheelchair to be used inside, or if there is an additional room which is mainly used by the disabled person. This scheme means that the Council Tax bill will be reduced by one valuation band. If a property is already in the lowest band (A) the bill will be reduced by one sixth.
Note: Most of the above does not apply to Northern Ireland. For information on how to find out about help with rates in Northern Ireland see page 5 of the booklet.
If you have any questions please contact the Fund on 0800 169 2942 and ask to speak with a Welfare Benefits Advisor.