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Durham County Council

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Council Tax Reduction Scheme


Following the government's decision to abolish council tax benefit, each council had to introduce a Council Tax Reduction Scheme. This scheme could help you pay council tax if you're on a low income.

Apply online using our online benefit claim and calculator. This will tell you if you're eligible and estimate how much council tax reduction you'd get.

You can also contact us to apply or, if you want to visit us in person, make an appointment at one of our customer access points

If you are housebound or have mobility issues we may be able to visit you at home and collect the information we need. Contact us for more details.

Council Tax Reduction Schemes are individual to each council and are reviewed every year.

Who can apply?

Anyone who is liable to pay for council tax can apply. Unless you get Guaranteed Pension Credit you won't qualify if you or your partner have savings or investments over £16,000. Our online benefit claim and calculator can tell you if you're eligible and estimate how much you'd get.

Second adult rebate

If your income or savings are too high to receive council tax reduction, you could still get help with your bill. You may qualify for second adult rebate if:

  • you live with another adult who isn't responsible for paying council tax
  • they are on a low income and can't help with the bill, and;
  • if they weren't living with you, you would qualify for a single person discount

This person cannot be:

  • your partner
  • a joint-tenant or joint-owner
  • someone who pays you for board and lodgings

The most second adult rebate you can get is 25 per cent.

When you apply for council tax reduction, we'll automatically consider second adult rebate as well. You'll get whichever one means you pay less.

What information will I need to provide?

When you make your application we will tell you what documents we need to see. Our What information should you provide? page gives details of what we might ask for. Please provide the evidence as quickly as you can otherwise this might delay your claim. If you don't get the evidence to us within a month, we may not be able to pay you any council tax reduction at all.

Our Chief Executive has made a 'Direction on electronic communications' for the administration of housing benefit and Council Tax Reduction. This is a legal document to allow us to accept electronic signatures. See the E-enabling direction (PDF, 74kb)

What happens next?

We'll consider your application and then write to you to tell you:

  • If your claim has been successful or not.
  • Why we made that decision.
  • If successful, how much your bill will be reduced.

If you think we've got anything wrong, let us know straight away.

How is the reduction applied?

We'll credit your account with any reduction and send you a revised bill for the year showing the new total. We'll usually backdate it to the Monday after we received your application. We can backdate the reduction by up to six months however you'll need to show that there were good reasons why you weren't able to apply earlier. If you're a pensioner we'll automatically backdate the reduction by up to three months if you would have been entitled to it during that time.

If you don't agree with the decision

If you disagree, you can:

  • ask us to further explain our decision
  • ask us to look at our decision again

To do this you'll need to write to us, explaining why you don't agree.

Appeal to an independent tribunal

You can make an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal if:

  • We look at our decision again and you still disagree with what was decided, or;
  • You ask us to look at our decision again and we don't reply to you within two months of you contacting us.

The Valuation Tribunal is a free and independent organisation that deals with council tax appeals. 

Tell us if your circumstances change

If any of your circumstances change that could alter how much you pay, you need to let us know as soon as possible. Financial penalties may apply if you pay less when you're not entitled to. See our Report changes affecting your council tax page for more information.