Website URL : http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1185

Council tax reduction

The scheme is approved by the councillors each year prior to annual billing.

The scheme for 2016/17 is the same as for the previous three years, apart from changes due to national legislation.

The detailed rules for our council tax reduction scheme, which will be used to assess your entitlement to a reduction can be found under the download section on the right hand side of the page.

Applying for a council tax reduction?

You can claim reduction if:

  • you are on income support or job seekers allowance
  • you are on a low income (including people who are self-employed)

You cannot be paid reduction if you (or you and your partner) have more than £16,000 in savings.  A partner is someone you are married to or someone you live with as if you were married to them.

To apply:

  • download the application form on the right (see Downloads) and return it to us with evidence of all your income and savings.
  • Contact customer service by phone on 01295 227002. Please note that we operate an appointments only system at all of our offices.  Therefore, you must first telephone to make an appointment.
  • use our benefit calculator (you will find it under 'See also' to the left of this page) to see if you qualify and get an estimate of how much you could be awarded.

You can drop your housing benefit and council tax reduction claim form into our self-serve post box at Bodicote House along with your supporting evidence.

If you are on a low income you can now make your claim for council tax reduction online. The council tax reduction claim form  is a secure form which you can save and come back to it at a later time. If you need help with the form please contact our Customer Services team on 01295 227002 during normal office hours

Supporting evidence required

In addition to your completed form, we need to see proof of your circumstances. We can only accept original documents as proof of your identity and personal circumstances. These will be returned to you once they have been certified as originals and scanned into our files.

Also, we need to see full and original evidence of all your income and savings. Therefore, please supply:

  • your last 5 weekly wages slips or last 2 monthly payslips
  • all bank statements for the previous 2 months.
  • proof of all stocks, shares and ISAs.

A full checklist is at the back of the application form.

These should be returned with your form, or as soon as possible afterwards.

How will you pay any entitlement under the local scheme?

If you are awarded a reduction under our local scheme this will be credited to your council tax account and a revised bill will be issued to confirm this.

Can I apply for backdated council tax reduction?

Yes.  However, we can only backdate a claim for a maximum of 6 months from the date of the backdating application. 

Backdating council tax reduction means that we award benefit for a period before the date when you actually made your claim. This does not normally happen, and to receive backdated reduction you must have good reasons for not making an earlier claim (e.g. a serious illness or bereavement) and those reasons must last throughout the entire period.

How long will it take?

We try to put all claims into payment within 14 days of you supplying the last piece of information. Therefore, it is important that you provide us with all the information and proof required as quickly as you can.

Payment for your Council Tax must be paid in accordance with your latest bill to avoid recovery action.

Appeals

Anyone who has claimed council tax reduction and disagrees with the decision made in their assessment can challenge the decision by writing to us. We are responsible for advising claimants of appeal procedures and investigating each appeal.

In the first place, please write and explain why you disagree with our decision and we will then look at it. If you are still unhappy with the result or we don't make a decision after two months, you will then be able to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

This is an independent organisation who will ensure that your claim has been dealt with in accordance with the local scheme. It is the same tribunal that deals with council tax appeals over discounts, exemptions and bandings. The address is below:

CTR Team
VTS
Hepworth House
2 Trafford Court
Doncaster DN1 1PN

Email: appeals@vts.gsi.gov.uk
Phone: 0300 123 1033

Your appeal must be in writing and must be signed. You can send it through the post, or hand it in at any of our one stop shops.

If any additional information is required, we will ask you to supply this.

How long will it take?

We try to deal with all appeals within 28 days. If you have not had a reply to your initial appeal after two months you can write to the Valuation Tribunal at the address above.

Change of circumstances

If you receive council tax reduction and there is a change in any of your personal circumstances, you must let us know in writing as soon as possible.

You can notify a change in your circumstances at any of our one stop shops, in person or by phone or by e-mail (see contacts to the right).

If you phone, you will be asked to confirm the change in writing.

Details required:

In addition to your notification of change of circumstances, we need to see proof of your circumstances. We can only accept original documents as proof of your personal circumstances.

Also, we need to see full and original evidence of your income or savings that have changed, such as pay slips and bank statements.

These should be returned with your notification, or as soon as possible afterwards.

How long will it take?

We try to amend claims within 14 days of you supplying the last piece of information. Therefore, it is important that you provide us with all the information and proof required as quickly as you can.

Overpayments

When we give you too much reduction, we call it an 'overpayment'.

If we give you too much reduction, we will send you a letter. The letter we send you will tell you:

  • why we gave you too much reduction
  • how much the overpayment is
  • if you have to pay back the amount 
  • how you can appeal if you think this is wrong.

If you are required to repay the overpayment we will send you a revised council tax bill.

What is going to happen in later years?

This depends on the council's budget position.  The government has cut funding for council tax support by 10%.  The cost of operating the current scheme will be affected by changes in the economy and by changes to the welfare system.  Therefore, it is possible that in future years we will have to cut support for some groups of taxpayers.

However, we will have to consult with members of the public before any changes are made, and the changes will have to be agreed by councillors.  This would have to be done by 31 January of the preceding financial year.

Are any groups of taxpayers protected from these changes?

Yes, the government has said that pensioners must be protected.  This means that they will receive the same level of support as they would have got under council tax benefit.

We can also choose to protect other groups that it considers to be "vulnerable".  At the moment we have not made any decision about which groups should be considered as "vulnerable".

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