If any of the following apply to you, you may be eligible for a discount in your Council Tax.
Government has confirmed Council Tax for low income homes already on a reduced bill will be cut further. The maximum cut will be £150 per household, and where a bill is already below £150 it will be reduced to zero. Further discretionary support is available and this will be considered on a case by case basis.
Unfortunately this extra help was not announced in time for annual Council Tax bills and so if you are entitled to Council Tax Support and are of working age, a revised bill for 2020/2021 will be sent to you as soon as possible. You do not need to contact us as the bill will be issued automatically.
If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, please email us here so that payments can be reviewed based on your circumstances.
Where an adult lives on their own (as their main home), they are eligible for a 25% discount.
Complete the Sole Occupier Discount application form, or contact the council if you would like some advice.
The Council Tax charge is based upon the number of people living in a property. If you are 'disregarded' it means that we do not count you when we work out the number of people living there.
When counting the number of people living in a dwelling, if there is just one person living there, a 25% discount may be granted. If all the residents at the dwelling are 'disregarded' a 50% discount may be granted.
If one or more of the following people live in a household, you may be eligible for a Council Tax discount
- Full-time students, student nurses, apprentices and youth training trainees
- Patients resident in hospital
- People who are being looked after in care homes
- People who are severely mentally impaired
- People staying in certain hostels or night shelters
- 18 and 19 year olds who are at or who have just left school
- Resident careworkers working for low pay, usually for charities
- People caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner, or child under 18
- Members of visiting forces and certain international institutions
- Members of religious communities (monks and nuns)
- People in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of Council Tax or a fine)
- Spouses of students where the spouse is not a UK citizen and is thereby prevented from seeking employment or claiming benefits
- People who are entitled to diplomatic privileges or immunity.
In households where there are both students and non-students, only the non-students will pay Council Tax.
Students will not pay Council Tax if they are:
A full time student, in further or higher education
- for at least one academic or calendar year
- at a prescribed education establishment (e.g. a university or theological college)
In further education and under the age of 20
- on a course that lasts three months or more
- attending at least 12 hours a week for supervised study or examination
- where classes are carried out between 8.30am and 5.30pm
- where the course in not carried out by correspondence
A student nurse
- attending a course that leads to an appropriate registration under section 10 of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979
A foreign language assistant
- appointed by a school or education establishment and registered as a foreign language assistant with the British Council
The following do not qualify
- Evening classes
- Correspondence courses
- Job-related training
Discounts and exemptions that can be considered
- Properties occupied solely by students will be exempt from Council Tax (Class N). This includes accommodation that is occupied by a single student.
- Where there is a household with a mix of students and non-students, only the students can be disregarded when deciding if a reduction may be given. If there are two or more occupiers who are not students, then there will be no discount applied. If there is only one adult occupier who is not a student, then we can grant the student discount of 25%
Certain people are not counted when looking at the number of adult’s in your home, this includes people who are ‘severely mentally impaired’. This term is used in Council Tax law, which is why it is referred to here, and it is not meant to cause any offence.
If, for example, there are two adults living at a properly, and one of them is severely mentally impaired, the bill is worked out as if only one adult is resident and it is reduced by 25%. If all the residents are severely mentally impaired, there will be no Council Tax to pay as a full exemption will apply (Class U).
For Council Tax purposes, the legal definition of severely mentally impaired is a ‘severe impairment of the intelligence and social functioning, (however caused), which appears to be permanent’.
Before you start your application
To qualify for a reduction, the person who is severely mentally impaired must be entitled to receive one of a number of certain benefits, and the full list is in the online form. We will need to see proof of entitlement for the whole period that a reduction in the Council Tax bill is being claimed for.
Secondly, the person’s doctor must verify that their condition falls within the legal definition above and a Doctor’s certificate is required as part of this application. This should be completed and signed by the person’s GP or other medical practitioner. The Doctor’s Certificate can be found in the DOWNLOADS area of this page.
The Council provides up to 100% discount of the Council Tax to care leavers aged 18 or over and up to the date of their 25th birthday, who live in Sefton and who are looked after by Sefton Council.
The discount will only need to be applied for once, for the duration of the liability or up to the date the care leavers 25th birthday. The discount will be reviewed and awarded annually.
Application Forms to apply for this discount are available from the care leaver's personal assistant.
Joint & Several liabilities
If a care leaver is jointly & severally liable to pay Council Tax with a partner, care leavers discount will be awarded to cover the charge after all other applicable discounts and reductions have been awarded.
Empty Property Discount
With effect from 1 April 2020, if a property is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished, a discount of 50% can be awarded for up to one month. The discount will start on the first day a property becomes empty. It will not be affected by any subsequent change in the person liable to pay Council Tax provided that the property remains empty. This is because the 50% discount is calculated from the day the property first becomes unoccupied and unfurnished.
Up to 31 March 2020, a discount of 100% could be awarded in such circumstances.
Empty Property Premium
For properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years, a premium of 100% will be applied. This means that 200% Council Tax is payable for such properties.
For properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than 5 years, a premium of 200% will be applied. This will mean that 300% Council Tax is payable for such properties. This increase will apply from 1 April 2020.
To ensure the Council Tax is correct, please inform the Council Tax office when your property is either, sold or let providing full details of the new tenants or owner.
Uninhabitable Property Discount (available up to 31 March 2020)
If an empty property is undergoing, or requires, major structural repair to make it habitable, then a discount of 50% can be granted for up to twelve months. The discount will start on the first day a property is determined as being uninhabitable by the Council. It will not be affected by any subsequent change in the person liable to pay Council Tax provided that the property continues to qualify for the discount. The full charge of Council Tax will be applied once the major work is completed, or after the twelve months has expired.
An empty property discount will only be considered if you provide your residential address.
You may qualify for a 50% discount if you live in an annexe.
The 50% reduction is on top of any other discount you or your relative may be entitled to. For example: if your adult son is living in the annexe on his own, he will be liable for Council Tax, but he will be entitled to a 25% sole occupier discount and a 50% annexe discount.
The annexe must be within the grounds of the main house and included in the title deeds and registered or banded separately for Council Tax and either:
- used by the resident of the main house, as part of their main home; or
- lived in by a relative of the person who lives in the main house. The relative must be a partner, parent, child, step child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, aunt, nephew and niece. This can also include great grandparent, great grandchild, and so on.
Other reductions available for annexes
If you have a close relative who lives in the annexe and they are over 65 years of age, or they are either severely mentally impaired or substantially and permanently disabled, the annexe may be exempt from Council Tax.
Similarly, if the annexe is unoccupied and cannot be let separately because of a planning restriction, then it could also be exempt.
If you live in and pay Council Tax for a property which your employer requires you to occupy, and you are liable for Council Tax on a second furnished property, you may qualify for a discount of 50%.
Who can qualify for this discount?
The job related second home discount will apply to either:
- The job related dwelling if it is the second home of you or your spouse/civil partner (not their main home), or
- Another dwelling if the job related dwelling is the main residence of you or your spouse/civil partner and you have another dwelling that is therefore a second home
One of the properties must fall into class A, B or C shown below:
- A - The property is provided to you, or your spouse/civil partner, because of your employment and it is necessary for proper performance of duties (as stated in your employment contract - i.e. tied accommodation.
- B - The property is occupied as a residence from which you, or your spouse/civil partner, perform the duties of a Minister of any religious denomination.
- C - You are in the armed forces and have your main residence in the UK in Ministry of Defence accommodation which is exempt from Council Tax under Class O.
Please read the application form in the 'downloads' section of this page for the full details, eligibility requirements and evidence required.
If you are currently receiving a discount, you must tell us about any change to your household using the 'Report changes to your household' link shown on this page. For example, if someone living with you becomes 18, or if anyone aged 18 or over joins your household.
You must also tell us if you occupy a property for which you are currently paying an unoccupied property charge, even if that charge is equivalent to full Council Tax. If you do not do this, and we continue to assume the property remains unoccupied, it will eventually become subject to the additional 100% Premium Charge that is applied to properties after two years of them becoming empty.
Applications for discount must be made in writing. Some forms are available to complete online, and the links are shown on this page. Alternatively, you can download PDF versions to print, complete and return. These are listed at the bottom of this page.
We may write to you to ask for further information depending on the discount that you apply for.
Backdating an award of a Council Tax discount
It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that an application for a discount or exemption is made as soon as possible.
If you have made a request for a discount or exemption to be backdated, we may check your application by visiting the property and checking other records.
We will not usually backdate a discount or other reduction unless there are exceptional circumstances. If your request is refused, you can appeal to the council in writing, providing as much relevant documentary evidence as possible.