Council tax single person discount explained – and how to apply

If you live alone, or with young children, ensure you make a saving on your council tax to help reduce the cost of living
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  • Turns out living alone offers more than just the benefit of not having a shower rota, solo dwellers are eligible to a single person council tax discount, too. It makes complete sense that as a single household you only use half the benefits, so it’s only fair to pay less.

    The discount also applies for single parents as anyone under the age of 18 doesn’t count. So a single parent with three kids, is still entitled to the discount.

    Applying for a council tax single person discount is a well worthwhile task, to help reduce your monthly outgoings. If you are a single person household you are eligible to a 25% reduction on your yearly council tax bill – which can make a huge difference to your yearly living costs.

    Applying for the discount isn’t complicated and doesn’t take much time to do it either so it’s basically a no brainer if you live on your own and could do with a bit of help with paying the bills.

    Here we explain all the steps you need to follow to first check with your council if you are eligible for a discount and then reduce the amount you pay for your council tax.

    Do you pay council tax if you live on your own?

    Every person has to pay a council tax premium. Fortunately, those who live alone are eligible for a discounted bill, to ensure you are not paying the same as the house next door with multiple occupants.

    White living room with grey sofa cream wooden coffee table

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Chris Henry, Head of Council Tax & Benefits at Havering Council explains why we pay it: ‘Council tax is a local tax which helps pay for vital services to vulnerable and elderly adults and young people, as well as maintaining roads, waste collection and street cleaning.’

    ‘Income from Council Tax also funds the fire service, police and  – in our case – Transport for London. The majority of people who own or rent their home will pay Council Tax. If you live on your own, you can get 25% off your council tax bill.’

    Where you live will determine the council tax band you live under, which determines how much you pay each year. When moving house, it’s always a good idea to check your council tax borough costs. It’s important because this cost has to factor into your household bills each month.

    How much cheaper is council tax if you live alone?

    ‘If you are the only adult resident (children under 18 years old don’t count) in a property, you can get 25% off your council tax bill,’ explains Chris Henry from Havering Council. ‘There are other reductions of 25% if the second adult living with you is a full-time student, a student nurse, an apprentice, has a severe mental impairment or is a long-term hospital patient.’

    ‘You can find the full list of council tax discounts at Council Tax: Who has to pay at GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). If you think you qualify for a discount or exemption, check with your local Council website for details on how to apply.’

    How do you apply for a single person discount?

    If you are the single person named as the occupant at your address, you can easily apply for the discount. ‘Contact your local Council to apply for the 25% single person discount. You can find details of your local authority at Apply for a Council Tax discount at GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)’ advises Chris.

    ‘You may be asked to complete an online application. If you are applying for a single person discount because another adult has moved out of your home, you will be asked to provide their forwarding address.’ You have to prove that you are legitimately the only person living at the residence in question. This is to avoid the system being fraudulently abused.

    Exterior block of flats with communal grass area

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Sussie Bell

    What happens if someone else moves in?

    If your circumstances change and you go from living alone to cohabiting, you need to notify the council so that your charges can be adjusted accordingly. Failure to do so is in effect tax evasion because you are not paying the correct amount that you should be.

    ‘Contact your Council via their local website to let them know someone else has moved in,’ advises Chris from Havering Council. ‘Most councils have an online form you can complete, or you can telephone them or send an email. Provide the full name of the person and the date they moved in.’

    Once your records are amended to name all persons living at the residence, you will start to pay accordingly. Of course if at any time your circumstances change once again, resulting in you being a single household, you will have to go through the same online process to register for the council tax single person discount once more.

    What if my income drops and I am finding it hard to pay the Council Tax?

    There can be additional circumstance which make you eligible for a council tax discount. ‘You may be eligible for a reduction – sometimes known as Council Tax Support – on your bill if your income is low,’ advises Chris.

    ‘Visit Apply for Council Tax Reduction  at GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for more information from your local council. Always approach your local council if you need help paying your council tax.’

    A small blue kitchen with sliding glass door and a wooden dining table

    Image credit: Future Plc/ Colin Poole

    Chris Henry is Head of Council Tax & Benefits at Havering Council. She has worked in local government for 35 years and in Council Tax since its inception in 1993 – meaning there’s no better expert on all things council tax related.

    Havering is one of the top councils for council tax collection. The council attributes this to resident pride in paying their taxes on time and understanding how important it is to help support their fellow residents and community.

    Applying for a council tax single person discount is the smartest way to make a savings on your living costs. Because 25% can easily add up to a significant amount each month. A saving of any amount, particularly twenty-five percent, allows for extra money that could be put towards other household bills to make your household more economical. If you’re eligible what are you waiting for? Apply today and start saving.

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