Council Tax bills - your questions answered

We get lots of questions about Council Tax.  Here are the answers to the ones we get most often...

When I get a new Council Tax bill each year do I need to set up a new Direct Debit?

No. If you've been paying your Council Tax by Direct Debit then this will continue.  Your Direct Debit will be taken on the same date of the month as before, unless you've cancelled it with your bank. Sign up for Direct Debit or tell us if you'd like to change any details.

What if I live on my own?

If you had a single person discount on your last bill, and you’re still living on your own, then this will continue. The discount should be included on your new bill, when these are sent in March.

I’m on benefits – what part of my Council Tax do I have to pay?

Council Tax Support can help you pay your council tax bill if you're on a low income.  It's a council tax discount scheme administered by the council.  Pension age people fall into a prescibed scheme which is set by central government that is very similar to Housing Benefit.  It is assessed based on their full council tax liability.  

If you apply for Council Tax Support, you must continue to pay your usual council tax.  Your application does not mean you'll automatically qualify for support.

From 01 April 2020 the working age Council Tax Support scheme is changing to come away from the complex means test.  We have replaced it with an income banded scheme.  This will assess the percentage level of discount given to households based on the net income of the applicant and their partner (if they have one) and family circumstances.  

The income bands are set out in the table below:

Council Tax Support Level (before any non-dep charges applied)

Pass-ported

Single Weekly Income Band

Couple Weekly Income Band

Family with one child Weekly Income Band

Family with two or more children Weekly Income Band

100%

All Cases

£0.00 - £110.00

£0.00 - £160.00

£0.00 - £200.00

£0.00 - £260.00

75%

N/A

£110.01 - £155.00

£160.01 - £205.00

£200.01 - £245.00

£260.01 - £305.00

50%

N/A

£155.01 - £205.00

£205.01 - £255.00

£245.01 - £295.00

£305.01 - £355.00

25%

N/A

£205.01 - £250.00

£255.01 - £300.00

£295.01 - £350.00

£355.01 - £450.00

The scheme also has the following features:

  • the capital limit is reducing to £6,000.00.  If your capital is above this you will not qualify for support
  • claimants or partners who receive Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance Income Based, Employment and Support Allowance Income Related will automatically receive 100% support  
  • Income from Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Child Benefit, Child Maintenance and War Disablement Benefits will continue to be disregarded in full
  • Net earnings will be taken into account when calculating Council Tax Support 
  • To support incentives to work, an earnings disregard of £20.00 per week will be applied to each claim that contains earnings, regardless of the hours worked
  • A flat rate of £5.00 per week will be applied to each non-dependant member of the household
  • The Minimum Income Floor will still apply to self-employed income after one year of trading
  • Extended-payment periods have been removed from the working age Council Tax Support scheme
  • Backdating is limited to one month and assessed on whether there is good cause to do this
  • Universal Credit
    • your Universal Credit payment and any earnings you receive will be used to work out your Council Tax Support
    • Deductions taken from your Universal Credit will be included as your income
    • the housing cost element will be pro-rated - the value of your Universal Credit award that is attributed to housing costs will not be included as your income when working out your Council Tax Support 

What is the social care precept?

The Government has changed the way Council Tax can be used to fund social care services.  In this area, social care is run by North Yorkshire County Council.  The changes mean that councils who run social care services can charge an additional ‘precept’ on the whole charge – separate from the increase applied to general funding.

2020/21:

North Yorkshire County Council – Band D - £1243.61
Adult Social Care precept £119.86
North Yorkshire County Council Total £1363.47

What about annexes on homes?

You can get half off the Council Tax you pay if you live in an 'annex' to a house – by this we mean a building that’s connected to a main home - providing you're related to the people paying Council Tax in the main part of the house.  This also applies to people living in homes with annexes that are empty, but only if you're using the annex as part of your main home.  If you think you may qualify please contact us.

Can I get a discount if there’s major structural repair work at my home?

When you can't live in a home or it's unfurnished because of building work or repairs, you may be able to get 20% off your Council Tax bill for up to a year.  We'll need to take a look at the property to make a decision on this.  If you think you may qualify for this please fill in this application form.

My property’s been empty and unfurnished for less than six months – what discount do I get?

If you've got a home that's empty and unfurnished you may be able to get money off your Council Tax for up to six months or until someone starts living there.  You could get the first month without having to pay anything, then 20% off your Council Tax bill for the rest of the time.

You can't claim both the money off for the home being empty and the money off because of major building work at the same time.  It's one or the other.

You need to tell us straight away if someone starts to live in the home.  To apply, please contact us.

Bear in mind that any property that has been empty more than two years will be charged a further 100% empty homes premium.

After 5 years this can increase to 200% and from 1 April 2021 if the property has been empty more than 10 years a 300% premium will be charged. If you are having problems bringing an empty home back into use our Empty Homes Officer is able to offer advice and a range of support tools, including interest free repair loans, valuation and sales support and a successful tenant find service, to help unlock the potential of your empty home. For an informal chat please contact us on 01757 705101 or email EmptyHomes@selby.gov.uk.

Do I need to report any change of circumstances?

Yes.  If you move house you need to tell us straight away so we don't charge you the wrong amount (and it could be that we'd be charging you too much).

If you're getting money off your Council Tax you must tell us straight away if anything changes that could affect how much discount you get.  If you've been given money off that you don't think you deserve, you must tell us within 21 days.  It's the law to do that.  Not doing it could mean you'll get a fine of up to £200.  You can tell us really easily by filling in a change of circumstances form.

How much can Council Tax go up by before there has to be a local vote?

The County Council must hold a referendum if Council Tax is to be increased by 5% or more.  Within this there is a limit of 2% for general spending, and 3% linked directly to social care services.

District Councils must hold a referendum if their part of the Council Tax is increased by 2% or more and more than £5 on a Band D property.  This means that an increase of more than 2% is allowed without a referendum vote, providing that the overall increase doesn’t go above £5 for a Band D property.

Other organisations can raise their part of Council Tax by 1.99% without having to hold a vote on this. 

It’s important to note, however, that by law we must show the increase to the nearest decimal point – which means that a 1.99% increase shows as 2%, a 2.99% increase shows as 3%.

Information supplied with demand notices

Read a full explanation of Council Tax and how it works.

You can read more here about the information supplied by the people we collect Council Tax for.  That includes these organisations.

Hard copies are available on request - please contact us.