Council Tax and Benefits

Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Friday, November 21 2014

Valuations, Discounts, Exemptions and Appeals

Band Appeals

The Council have received an increasing number of enquiries from residents regarding agents that offer to appeal against the banding of your property in order to obtain a reduction in your Council Tax.  Whilst many of these agents are legitimate, they will charge a fee for something which can just as easily be done by you free of charge.

The Valuation Office have produced a leaflet which gives details on what to do if you disagree with your Council Tax banding or any other aspect of the entry for your property in the Council Tax Valuation List.  Alternatively, you can contact the Valuation Office directly on 03000 501501.  The Valuation Office website also contains advice on what to do if you believe an agent who has contacted you is not legitimate.

Council Tax Valuation Bands

Most dwellings are subject to the Council Tax.  There is one charge per dwelling, whether it is a house, bungalow, flat, maisonette, mobile home or houseboat, owned or rented.  Each dwelling has been allocated to one of eight bands according to its open market capital value at 1 April 1991:

A -  Up to and including £40,000 
B -  £40,001 - £52,000 
C -  £52,001 - £68,000 
D -  £68,001 - £88,000 
E -  £88,001 - £120,000 
F -  £120,001 - £160,000 
G -  £160,001 - £320,000 
H -  More than £320,001

 

Valuation Office

The Valuation Office is an Executive Agency of the Inland Revenue, it carries out valuations for non-domestic (business) rating purposes, and banding for council tax on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.  You can telephone the Valuation Office on 03000 501501

Appeals against the banding of the property:

You can make a proposal (the first stage of the appeals process) to have the banding of your property changed within six months of becoming the Council Tax payer at that address.  If you have been the Council Tax payer for more than six months you can only appeal if

 

1.  You feel that the banding should be changed because there has been a material increase or a material reduction in the value of the property

Material increase: building works (extensions etc) or other types of work which may increase the value of the property.  Please note the Valuation Office will only revalue the property once it has been sold and therefore the current occupier will not be liable for any increase in Council Tax
Material reduction: demolition or conversion of any part of the dwelling, any change in the physical state of the local area or an adaption to make the dwelling suitable for someone with a physical disability.  The Valuation Office will revalue the property as soon as possible in these cases.

2.  If you start or stop using a part of the property as a business.  In this case you may become liable to pay National Non Domestic Rates in addition to the Council Tax.

3.  Where the Valuation Office has amended a banding in the list without having received a proposal from the Council Tax payer

You can also appeal if you believe your home should not be shown in the Valuation list, for example, if you feel it is not separate, self-contained accommodation.

You can also appeal if you think your property should be in the list and it is not, for example, if the property was previously used as a business and is now used as a home.

In all appeals against the banding of your property you must contact the local office of the Valuation Office Agency.

Appeals Procedure

Who can appeal?
You can appeal if you are :

  • The person liable to pay the Council Tax
  • The person who would be liable if your property was not exempt from Council Tax
  • The owner of the dwelling

When can I appeal?
You can make an appeal if you think:

  • You are being sent sent Council Tax bills but are not the liable person
  • Your home should be an exempt dwelling
  • The amount of the bill is incorrect, for example if you think a discount should apply or if the Council has not reduced the bill after an application has been made for a disabled reduction

How to make an appeal:
In the first instance, write to:
Local Taxation Manager, Revenues & Benefits Department, Eastleigh Borough Council, Eastleigh House, Upper Market Street, Eastleigh SO50 9YN

You should fully explain the reasons for your appeal.

The Local Taxation Manager has two months to consider your appeal and make a decision.  They will write to you with a full explanation.

If you still disagree with the council’s decision, or if you have not received a reply within the two months, you can make a further appeal to a Valuation Tribunal

Valuation Tribunal
If you are unhappy with a decision made by the Local Taxation Manager following an appeal, you can refer the matter to a Valuation Tribunal.

The council can give you the address of your local Tribunal, or you can obtain this from http://www.valuation-tribunals.gov.uk/

The Tribunal will ask you to make your appeal in writing, stating which decision you are appealing against, why you disagree with the decision or it may be that the Council has not reached a decision.

If you and the council agree, your appeal can be dealt with in writing.

Alternatively you can attend a hearing where both you and the council will be asked to present full details of the issue.  You will be contacted, prior to the hearing, and advised of the date your appeal will be heard and you will be sent a leaflet detailing the tribunal procedures.  A hearing will generally last no longer than a day.

This hearing will not cost you anything unless you decide to employ a solicitor or other person to present your case.

No decision will be made at the hearing, but you will be advised in writing of the decision made by the Tribunal.

If the Tribunal decides in your favour, the council will revise your bill and adjust your payments accordingly.

Single Persons Discount Review - November 2014

Council Tax payers living in the Borough of Eastleigh who receive a 25 per cent reduction on their bill as single occupancy residents will soon be checked to make sure that the reductions are correct.

The checks are part of the council’s measures to prevent and detect fraud and protect the public finances

The council has appointed Capita Local Government Services to carry out a comprehensive review of around 16,000 taxpayer records. They will work with Equifax, the credit reference agency using up-to-the-minute, data-matching technology to identify where people are claiming discounts that they are not entitled.

A Council spokesperson said "Single person discount is an entitlement that the Council is keen to ensure is claimed by taxpayers who are genuinely entitled, especially in these difficult economic times. However, taxpayers who claim the discount improperly place an unnecessary tax burden on other residents which they cannot be allowed to get away with."

Any taxpayers currently receiving a discount which they feel may not be correct are urged to contact Eastleigh Borough Council on 02380 688470 before the full review begins in November/December 2014.

Discounts

The full Council Tax bill assumes that there are two adults in a dwelling.  If only one adult lives in a dwelling (as their main home), or if there are 2 or more adults and some or all of them meet certain conditions, the Council tax will be reduced by a quarter (25%).  Examples of these conditions are given below:

Empty Properties

Type

Discount %

 

Standard Empty Class: Restricted to Ministers of Religion, Service Personnel & job-related occupation (publicans, servants)

50%

 

Empty Class A: Purpose built holiday homes and chalets subject to planning restrictions preventing year round occupancy

NIL

 

Empty Class B: Unoccupied but furnished second homes

NIL

 

Empty Class C: Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished

Empty Property Premium of 50% in addition to the full Council Tax is charged after 2 years from the date the property became unoccupied/unfurnished. 6 week occupation/furnished periods are ignored.

NIL

 
 

Empty Class D: unoccupied and substantially unfurnished and undergoing major works for maximum of 12 months.

Moves into Empty Class C when works completed or at the end of the 12 month period provided property remains unoccupied/unfurnished.

NIL

 

Empty Class E: would otherwise be the sole or main residence of a member of the armed forces, who is absent from the property as a result of such service

NIL

 

Empty Class F: A dwelling which forms part of a single property which is being treated as by a resident of that property as part of the main building.

NIL

 

 

Please contact the Council Tax section for further advice if:

  • The property is an unoccupied annex which is not subject to an exemption under Class T (ie: an unoccupied dwelling which forms part of a single property which includes another dwelling)
  • The property has been left empty by a serving member of the Armed Forces who has left the property unoccupied as a result of such service.

Current information regarding Valuations, Discounts, Exemptions and Appeals can be found by following this link.

Any queries regarding your Council Tax should be directed to the Council Tax section on 02380 688470, or by email to revbens@eastleigh.gov.uk.

Severely Mentally Impaired
This discount applies to any household where there is more than one resident and one or more of the residents over 18 years of age is/are Severely Mentally Impaired.

To qualify for this discount, the person(s) must have a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused) which appears to be permanent and the person(s) must be of pensionable age or in receipt of any of the following qualifying benefits:

An Unemployability Supplement under Part I of Sch.7, SSCB Act
A constant Attendance Allowance under article 14 of the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme 1983 or article 14, Naval, Military and Air Forces etc. (Disablement and Death) Service Pensions Order 1983.
An Unemployability Allowance under Article 18 of either of the provisions referred to immediately above
Income Support where the applicable amount includes a disability premium
In receipt of Personal Independence Payments
Incapacity Benefit under SS.40 and 41 of the SSCB Act 1992

Applications for this discount from Council Tax can be made by an authorised representative of the person concerned, and must include the name and address of their doctor and proof of the qualifying benefit.

We will send the doctor a certificate for him to complete confirming that in his/her opinion there is severe mental impairment and ask him to provide the date the condition was diagnosed.

Action the council will take:

Once the doctor has replied, a copy of the certificate will be sent to the Council Tax Payer at the address and the discount of 25% will be applied from the date of diagnosis.  If applicable a refund of any overpaid Council Tax will be issued together with confirmation of the discount.

You are entitled to appeal against the decision if the council decides that you do not qualify for a full exemption from Council Tax : please see Appeals Procedure and Valuation Tribunal for more information.

Students
1.  Student - A person under 20 who is not in full time education.  The course must be longer than 3 calender months and must be for a total of at least 12 hours per week with attendance between 8.00am - 5.30pm.  Not a correspondence course.

2.  Full Time Student - Attending a course at a college or university which is not less than 1 year and requires attendance at least 24 weeks each year.  The course must require at least 21 hours per week study, tuition or work experience.

3.  Student Nurse - In full time education which will lead to registration in the register of Nurses, Midwives & Health Visitors.

Apprentice
A person who is learning a trade, business, profession, office employment or vocation and undertaking an accredited Training programme NVQ.  This person must receive less than £195 per week wages.

Child Benefit payable
A person who has reached the age of 18 but for whom Child Benefit is still in payment (or would still be entitled to receive child benefit)

Carer/Careworker Discount Disregard
Some carers, and some people receiving care, may be entitled to a range of different reductions depending on their circumstances.

In all cases, the care that is being given or received must be for:

  • Old age;
  • Physical or mental disability;
  • Past or present alcohol dependency;
  • Past or present drug dependency; or
  • Past or present mental illness.


This discount disregard is divided into two categories:  Careworkers and Carers and in order to be disregarded the person who is providing the care must fit either category in full.

Careworker
The person providing care must be:

  • Providing care or support on behalf of a local authority or charitable body or
  • Employed by the person who is being cared for but has been introduced to that person through the local authority or charity
  • Engaged or employed for at least 24 hours per week
  • Receiving a salary of less than £44 per week (from April 2007).  Prior to this the limit on wages was £36 until 31 March 2007, and £30 per week until 31 March 1998.
  • Be resident in premises provided by their employer for the better performance of their duties.  This does not necessarily mean that they have to reside with the person for whom they are providing care.


How to apply:
A letter from the employer confirming the hours, salary and place of residence is required as proof of your carer’s status. The gross wages is the amount actually paid by the employer and other forms of remuneration such as provision of accommodation etc. would be ignored.

Carers
The second category of carer primarily relates to non-professional carers and in particular looks to cover people who are looking after a relation.  There is no reference made to actual earnings or payment as often there is none involved. However there is a reference to hours worked and this would need to be confirmed in writing by the person claiming the disregard.

To qualify for this reduction in Council Tax , the following conditions must apply:

1. The carer is providing care to a person who is in receipt of any of the following qualifying benefits:

Attendance Allowance under S65 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992
The middle or the highest rate of the Care component of Disability Living Allowance under S72 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992
An increase in the rate of Disablement Pension under S104 of the above act
An increase in the constant Attendance Allowance under the above Act
In receipt of Personal Independence Payments

2. The carer must be resident within the same dwelling as the person being cared for.

3. The carer must be providing care for at least 35 hours per week

4. The carer must not be a disqualified relative namely a spouse/civil partner (married or unmarried) or the parent of a child under 18 years

Whilst it is perhaps normal for a single carer to be present, there is no limit on the number of carers that can be present and disregarded provided each satisfies the above conditions.  For example, both parents could be disregarded if they were both responsible for providing care for an adult child.

In addition, there is no restriction on a carer also having additional employment, which may occur if both parents are looking after an adult child who requires care.

How to apply:
A statement of your relationship to the person you care for and the number of hours you provide care for, together with a photocopy of the front cover and first page of their relevant state benefit book, will be required as proof of your status as a carer.

Once the discount disregard has been confirmed as applicable, a 25% reduction in the Council Tax will apply.  Adjusted bills will then be issued.

However if the only other person resident in the property is severely mentally impaired and this has been confirmed by a doctor, a further discount disregard of 25% will apply.  The Council Tax payer will then only be liable to pay 50% of the full Council Tax.  Additionally a disabled reduction may apply.

Eastleigh Borough Council will consider back-dating any claim for a discount disregard or exemption, but full documentary evidence will be required to support any such claim. However, claims for any exemption or discount disregard should be made as soon as possible from the date the conditions are first met.

You are entitled to appeal against the decision if the council decides that you, as the carer, do not qualify for a 25% discount disregard reduction : please see Appeals Procedure and Valuation Tribunal for further information.

Further information about carers can be obtained at www.carersuk.org

Other Categories of Disregarded Persons

  • A person who is in prison
  • A patient who lives in hospital
  • A person whose sole/main residence is in a hostel or night shelter
  • A person of no fixed abode 


If the property is no-one's main home, the bill will be reduced by half (50%), unless it has been designated a "second home" (please see below):

Discounts on Second Homes

Councils are able to reduce the discount allowed to owners of second homes with effect from 1 April 2004.
Second homes are defined as dwellings that are "no-one's sole or main residence and are furnished". The second homes discount reduction amendment cannot be applied to those properties left empty by owners having to live in tied accommodation or accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence.
The Regulations allow for the sharing of the additional income raised between the Council and the major precepting bodies (Hampshire County Council, Police Authority and Hampshire Fire and Rescue).

The Local Government Finance Act 2003 inserted a new section 11A into previous legislation (Local Government Finance Act 1992).  This enabled Councils to reduce the discount allowed to owners of second homes from the previous level of 50% to 10% and came into effect on 1 April 2004.

Changes effective from 01 April 2013

The Government introduced a change in legislation in respect of empty properties and Local Authorities have been given powers to determine that amount of discount - if any - that is awarded.

Eastleigh Borough Council decided at a full Council meeting on 06 December 2012 that the discount allowed for second homes would be set at 0% with effect from 01 April 2013.

Disabled Reduction

The Council Tax bill can be reduced if your home has certain features to meet the needs of a disabled resident. The qualifying criteria is:

A room which is mainly used by the disabled person other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet (ie an extension or an extra room used for storing wheelchairs or dialysis equipment)
An additional kitchen or bathroom for the use of the disabled person
Extra space within the property to allow for the use of a wheelchair

There is no restriction on the age of the disabled person and therefore parents of disabled children under the age of 18 can apply.

The reduction will be the equivalent to a re-banding of the property into the band immediately below that shown in the valuation list. For example a property which has been banded D by the Valuation Office will reduce to a Band C.

No actual alteration to the valuation list will be made, and properties in Band A will be reduced proportionately.

Reductions may be given to residential institutions as well as private dwellings.

How to apply:

Please contact the Council Tax department to request an application form.

Once you have completed and returned the form, a Council Tax officer will contact you to arrange a visit to view the property.

If a reduction under this scheme is granted, it will be awarded from the date the application form was received.

You do have the right to appeal if a decision is taken not to grant the reduction.  Please see Appeals procedure and Valuation Office Tribunal for further information.

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