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Many Brits will be eligible for an automatic council tax refund worth £150 to help with the current cost of living crisis. This comes as households face rising bills putting pressure on their finances, and April sees a rise in energy bills putting further strain on household outgoings (reported here).
The government has put forward a bill rebate of £200 to help ease the burden, which has been caused by globally spiralling wholesale gas costs. Councils are also due to raise council tax and other bills.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has accounted a £150 council tax refund… but only for some people.
People in council tax bands A to D will get the cash – around 80% of homes – but not in bands E to H. You can find out which band you’re in by checking with your government’s search tool, but beware: your tax band could go up as well as down. If you pay council tax in band A-D you’ll get discounted if you’re claiming housing benefit. You’ll also receive it if you claim pension credit, which helps retirees on a low income. These discounts should automatically apply to benefit claimants in the right bands.
It will also benefit you if you live on your own, as you’ll be entitled to 25% off your council tax bill. Pensioners may also be eligible for a reduction of council tax if they’re already getting some parts of pension credit.
People in receipt of pension credit will still get the discount, even if they are already getting a reduction. The same applies if you’re on low income or benefits: if you get a council tax discount for these reasons, you will also get the £150 discount: that still applies even if the council tax from you local council reduces your bill to below £150 and even down to £0.
If you’re exempt from paying council tax, such as if you’re a student, you won’t get the further discount, nor if the person living in the taxed house has now gone into care and left the property unoccupied, or if the property is an annexe that’s part of a main dwelling.
MoneyMagpie’s Jasmine: “It is certainly a help for some households to get £150 for their Council Tax but for the poorest, who already should have their Council Tax paid, it is not going to make any difference.
This situation really has been created by our government and other governments around the world. The various lockdowns have caused terrible disruptions to business and manufacturing as well as to distribution. The lack of products in the shops has put prices up and, in particular, the insane amount of quantitative easing that our government in particular has indulged in has meant that we are going to be suffering inflation for some time to come. Yet again, the ordinary consumer is suffering for the folly of government. They are going to have to do more than hand out the odd £150 to households to enable them to cope this year and next.”
Even so, if you want your discount, it will be made by local authorities and applied automatically as a payment to all eligible households – so you don’t need to apply. The government says most people will get payments from this April and – many will be relieved to hear – you won’t have to pay the money back. Councils will make the payments automatically to customers whose bank details they hold, or will contact those for whom they don’t.
If you’re not already getting your council tax discount, it may be well worth checking the following:
Single people are eligible for 25% off their bill, while an adult living with a student can get 50% off. You could also receive a discount if you’re on benefits: again, this will differ depending on where you live, so check out the details on the Government website.