Changes to Council Tax discounts and exemptions

Here is a summary of the changes in Council Tax which have occurred in recent years and what they might mean for you.

Changes to Council Tax Discounts and Exemptions

The Government announced changes to Council Tax Discounts and Exemptions in respect of second homes and certain empty properties. This allows councils greater flexibility over certain discounts and exemptions that may apply to empty properties. There is now a new power to charge an additional amount of Council Tax on properties that have been continuously empty for more than two years. The changes will start from 1st April 2013.

The Government has:

  • Abolished the 6 month exemption class C (unoccupied and unfurnished) and are allowing councils to set their own levels of discount
  • Abolished the 12 month exemption Class A (uninhabitable) and are allowing councils to set their own levels of discount
  • Allowed councils to levy an empty homes premium of up to an additional 50% on properties that have been empty over 2 years
  • Allowed the full council tax to be charged on 'second homes' (properties which are furnished and unoccupied) this included furnished rental properties which are between lets

What the Council has decided:

Uttlesford District Council agreed the following at the full council on 10 December 2013, for the financial year 2014/2015. This followed a public consultation period in the summer of 2013.

  • Unoccupied and unfurnished property - the current 100% discount for up to 6 months has been changed. The new discount for qualifying properties will now be 50% discount for up to 6 months
  • Uninhabitable property - the current 100% discount for up to 12 months has been changed. The new discount for qualifying properties will now be 50% for up to 12 months
  • Long term empty property - a 50% additional premium will be applied to properties empty over 2 years (i.e. 150% charge)
  • Second Homes (furnished and unoccupied) currently 10% discount can be given. From 1st April 2014 the 0% discount will be given

New Council Tax Discount for Annexes

With effect from the 1st April 2014 there is a new Council Tax discount for Annexes occupied as part of the main home by the owner or where the annexe is occupied by a qualifying relative. The 50% discount will apply after any other discount or reduction is applied to the Council Tax liability. Please go to our Annexes page for more details.

Council Tax Flooding Relief

If you are a householder whose house has been flooded by the adverse weather events with effect from the 1st July 2014 you may consider asking your local authority for a discount from Council Tax.

Local Council Tax Support (LCTS)

You may be able to receive a means tested reduction to your Council Tax if you are on a low income. This Locally defined Council Tax discount replaced the national Council Tax Benefit scheme from the 1 April 2013. The funding from central Government for supporting low income households changed from 1st April 2013.

Low income Pensioners are protected from the adverse changes to Council Tax Benefit, and continue to get financial support on a national scheme. All low income working age Uttlesford tax payers are expected to pay a minimum of 8.5% of their bill from April 2013; and from April 2014 low income working age tax payers will pay a minimum of 12.5% of the Council Tax bill.

If you would like further information or you would like to make a claim please telephone 01799 510510 or see our Benefits page for further details. A calculator is available on the Online Benefit Calculators resource page which will enable you to input your financial details to see if you may qualify for help with your Council Tax. 
Payment may not be withheld pending your application for a LCTS discount.

Changes of circumstances

Any changes/corrections to your entitlement to any exemption or discount should be notified to the Council within 21 days. Failure to do so may result in a penalty fee of £70.

Appeals

If you have not been granted a Council Tax exemption and you feel this is incorrect you can appeal in writing to the Council and we will review your application. If you are still unhappy following this review you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal who will undertake an independent review of your application. Details can be found on the Valuation Tribunal Services website Tel. 0300 123 2035. If you make an appeal you must continue to pay the instalments shown on your Council Tax bill until a final decision is made.