This page provides an overview of the Council's Discretionary Council Tax Support (DCTS) Scheme which was introduced from 1st April 2013. There are links to other useful information and the page explains how you can apply for DCTS.
Discretionary Council Tax Support (DCTS)
We have designed a Discretionary Council Tax Support (DCTS) scheme to provide additional help and support to people experiencing hardship in paying their Council Tax. You do not have to be receiving Council Tax Support to apply for DCTS.
Applications will be accepted on the basis that the applicant or household would suffer severe financial hardship if financial assistance were not given. To qualify for DCTS you will need to be able to provide information and evidence about your circumstances and the Council will need to be satisfied that you have exhausted other sources of income or options that are available to you.
Applying for help
You will need to complete the application form below and there are notes to help you complete the form. You can also ask for a form from the Benefit Team.
We will ask you the reason why you are making your application and we will ask you to provide details and evidence about your household income and expenditure. The more information you provide the easier it will be for us to make a decision.
Making a decision
To get DCTS we must be satisfied you or your household would suffer severe financial hardship if financial assistance were not given. Some of the things we will look at are:
- The reason you are applying for DCTS
- Your income and whether you have applied for any appropriate discount or exemption
- Whether you have access to any other financial assets that could be realised to pay the Council Tax
- Whether you have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the situation prior to application
We will write to you to let you know if your application has been successful and send you a revised Council Tax bill. If you are not awarded DCTS or if you disagree with the amount of help you have been awarded, you have the right to appeal. Details of how you can appeal will be contained in your decision notice.
Full details of this scheme can be found attached to the minutes of the meeting on 22 January 2013.
The power to do this is at the discretion of the Council and the current policy at OWBC is not to offer such a discount. This decision was taken as it was felt that to allow a discount would disadvantage those who did not have the means to pay in full rather than by instalments, and the cost of the discount would have to be met by all Council Tax payers as it would not be covered by the increase in cash flow.
No, you cannot get interest on overpaid Council Tax. There is no provision in law to allow it so it would be illegal for the council to pay it.
No, if you stop paying, we are obliged to commence recovery action against you. Your liability to pay Council Tax is not affected by provision of local authority services.
You should contact the local authority responsible for providing the service and say why you are unhappy. You can pursue the matter through the Council’s complaints procedure if necessary, and ultimately involve your local Councillor and/or the Ombudsman as appropriate.
Possibly, but you must provide the Council with all of the reasons why your entitlement should start from a date earlier than the date you submitted your benefit application form. The Council will only be able to agree to backdate your claim if you can demonstrate good cause why you did not apply earlier and that this existed for the whole of the period that you are seeking backdated benefit to be paid. Reasons such as 'I did not know about the scheme' or 'I did not have time to apply' are not normally considered to demonstrate good cause. Backdated benefit entitlement cannot exceed a period of 6 months for a claimant or partner who are under 60 and cannot exceed a period of 3 months for a claimant or partner who are 60 or over from the date of the claim.
Yes. The Council Tax Regulations state that payment is still due irrespective of any appeal or benefit claim that may be outstanding. This is because there are separate legal avenues for pursuing different outstanding matters.
Send us a letter within one month to the address on this page.
You may be entitled to Council Tax Support, or qualify for a status discount or an exemption from Council Tax.
For further information please contact us or visit our web pages on Council Tax Support.
The Council’s preferred method of payment is direct debit, but it also offers a wide variety of other payment methods. For details please see the back of your Council Tax bill or visit our Payment Options webpage.
You can apply for both Housing Benefit (help with your rent) and Council Tax Benefit (help with your Council Tax) by completing the Council's housing and council tax benefit application form. However, if you have already filled in the Benefits Agency form (HCTB1 or Local Authority Input Document) along with an application for Income Support or Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, you do not need to also complete the Council form unless you wish to claim Housing Benefit as a tenant of a private landlord.
You will need to submit all the documentary proof that is asked for (original documents only) including evidence of your identity and your National Insurance number. For further information please go to the Information Required page.
Please answer all the questions on the form, and provide the necessary supporting evidence as quickly as possible, to allow us to assess your claim promptly. If you don't have the documentary evidence immediately available do not delay submitting your claim for housing and council tax benefit otherwise you may lose benefit to which you are entitled. (See question 5 regarding backdating of entitlement.)
For more information go to the Housing and Council Tax benefit entitlement page.
The Council sets the standard level of Council Tax (called the band D tax level) in February/March each year. Each home is in one of eight valuation bands A to H based on the property’s capital value as at 1 April 1991. The actual tax paid depends on which band the property is in.
We aim to assess new claims within 14 days of receiving all of the required information. Things that may delay your claim being processed include:
If all sections of the application form are not fully completed, including the declaration and signature.
If you do not supply all of the supporting documentation.
If the Council is waiting for information about your claim from another agency such as Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs, the Pension Service, or the Department of work and Pensions.
If the Council needs further information from you regarding your claim (in which case we will contact you). You have up to 1 month to provide the information but this delays processing your claim so we would appreciate your early response to requests for information.
You will be sent a notification letter once your application has been processed, advising you of your housing and council tax benefit entitlement.
Your entitlement will continue for as long as there is no change in the circumstances declared on your original claim form. It is important that any change of circumstances is reported promptly so always check that you have reported any change both to the Department for Work and Pensions (Job Centre Plus or the Pension Service) and to the Council.
Both housing benefit and council tax benefit are means tested benefits. The calculation takes account of the claimant's income, savings, capital, the number of residents in the household and their personal and financial circumstances. The calculation also includes the amount of any rent and/or council tax payable. You may qualify for up to 100 per cent housing and council tax benefit.
For claims made now some claimants will qualify for Local Housing Allowance which does not take account of the actual rent payable. For further information please go to the Local Housing Allowance page.
Your weekly entitlement to council tax benefit will be converted to an annual amount, credited directly to your Council Tax account and be deducted from the balance that is due to be paid.
Payment of Housing Benefit will depend upon the type of your tenancy and other circumstances for example:
If you are a Council tenant then your weekly entitlement will be credited to your rent account so that the actual weekly rent that you pay will be the difference between the full rent and your housing benefit entitlement.
If you are a tenant of a private or Registered Social Landlord then your Housing Benefit entitlement may be paid either, to you, or to your landlord, by BACS (Bankers Automated Credit System) straight into a bank account or by cheque. If it is paid to you then you will be paid in arrears every 2 weeks but if it is paid to your landlord it will be paid in arrears every 4 weeks. You can sometimes decide who should receive the payment. However, if you are 8 weeks or more in arrears with your rent your landlord can insist that housing benefit be paid directly to them. Claims made now, at a new address, will be subject to the Local Housing Allowance rules which mean that, with certain exceptions, housing benefit is only paid to the tenant.
Your circumstances may have changed e.g. savings, income, rent, someone moving in or out of your household, or someone in your household having a significant birthday – 10, 16, 18, 25, 60, 65 or 80 years.
Your entitlement to other benefits administered by Job Centre Plus or the Pension Service may have changed or been cancelled by The Department of Work and Pensions. This means that you may need to complete a new application form.
You may have been overpaid housing benefit or council tax benefit and your entitlement may have been reduced to recover the outstanding amount.
Housing and council tax benefit entitlement normally commences from the Monday following the date that you first indicated to the Council's Benefit Section, or any associated office, that you wished to claim housing and council tax benefit, provided that you then submitted your application within one month of that date of first contact.
However, if you apply during the week in which your tenancy or Council Tax liability starts then benefit will be paid from that date. It is important therefore to submit your application as soon as possible. Please don't wait until you have all of the supporting evidence that is required. For example you can submit your claim with 3 payslips even though 5 are requested. The remaining 2 can be submitted when they are available as long as that is within 4 weeks of submitting the original claim.
If you pay rent to a landlord who is also a close relative and you live in the same property then you will not be able to claim housing benefit.
If you pay rent to a landlord who is also a close relative and you do not live in the same property then you may be able to claim housing benefit. However the Council will need to ensure that the tenancy meets all the criteria of a fully commercial arrangement and will probably ask you for more details in support of your claim.
The Council cannot normally pay housing benefit if you are renting from a relative, a property that you previously owned, or if you are paying rent to a former partner/spouse.
If that person is your spouse, civil partner or partner (same or opposite sex) then you will need to be re-assessed as a couple and that will involve taking account of your joint circumstances.
If the person is aged 18 or over, and lives with you on a non-commercial basis they will need to be treated as a 'non-dependant' for housing and council tax benefit purposes, and in most situations this will affect your entitlement. Normally a non-dependant deduction will be made from your entitlement based upon the circumstances of the person new to your household.
To prevent any overpayment of housing and council tax benefit it is always safer to report all changes in your household/family arrangements and the Council will then be able to advise if the change affects your entitlement.
In certain circumstances some students can claim housing and council tax benefit for example lone parent students, or if you are the partner of a student. However, the rules regarding definition of a student and eligibility for HB/CTB are complex so you are advised to contact the Benefit Section for advice.
The fact that you are in receipt of one of these benefits does not give an automatic entitlement to housing and council tax and a claim must always be submitted to the Council. When claiming Income Support or income based Job Seekers Allowance a housing and council tax benefit application form (called an HCTB1 form or Local Authority Input Document) is provided by the Department for Work and Pensions and should be completed and returned to them. They will pass that form to the Council but you are advised to check that the Council has received it.
Receipt of form HCTB1 or Local Authority Input Document, along with confirmation of entitlement to Income Support or income based Job Seekers Allowance, will usually, but not always, allow the Council to award housing benefit or council tax benefit without carrying out any further enquiries into your household or income. However, further information may be required (such as rent details) and you may be asked to provide this information by completing the Council's own housing and council tax benefit claim form.
In certain circumstances the Council may be able to award you a Discretionary Housing Payment allowance of part, or all, of the shortfall between your housing benefit and your rent. The allowance is not a permanent award but is paid for a short period to help those with financial difficulties that temporarily affect their ability to pay their rent for example they need time look for more affordable accommodation or they have been unable to work due to illness.
Yes, provided that you pay in advance of your instalment date not in arrears e.g. if your instalment date is 1 April you should pay that instalment on 28 March but not on 28 April. This way, you still only pay the same monthly amount (but a few days in advance) and you will then have January and February when you do not have to pay an instalment.
If you have been in receipt of qualifying benefits for at least 26 weeks and inform the Council within four weeks of the date that you start work, you may be entitled to an additional four weeks housing benefit. A qualifying benefit is Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance. This is called 'Housing Benefit Run On' or 'Extended Payment'. For further information please contact the Benefit Section.
If your house has been extended or changed prior to you buying it, but since it was originally valued and banded, it will only be re-valued and issued with a new band when a material change takes place. The transfer of ownership of a property is classed as a material change.
If you are unhappy with a decision you can ask us for an explanation and a more detailed breakdown of how your claim has been assessed. This is called a 'statement of reasons'.
If, after receiving a statement of reasons, you want the decision to be looked at again you can ask for it to be reviewed by another benefit officer, not the one who made the original decision. This is called a 'reconsideration'.
If you are still unhappy, you can formally appeal against the decision which will mean it is considered by an independent tribunal organised by the Appeals Service, who are independent of the Council.
Any amount of overpaid housing benefit will normally be recovered from the claimant or, in certain circumstances, the landlord.
Any amount of overpaid council tax benefit will normally be added back on to your Council Tax liability.
If the overpayment is the result of an error on the part of the Council, the Department for Work and Pensions or any other relevant official organisation, and the person receiving the housing and council tax benefit couldn't have reasonably been expected to know that they were receiving too much benefit, then it will not usually be recoverable.
If the Council believes that you are liable to repay the overpaid housing and council tax benefit you will be informed in writing of the amount of overpayment and the period that it relates to.
Any amount of housing and council tax benefit which has been awarded but to which there is no entitlement, whether on initial determination, or as subsequently revised on review or further review.
Council Tax is not a direct payment for services received. It is a means whereby each householder contributes towards the cost of services provided in their locality e.g. Fire, Police, Education, Social Services. Your contribution is based on the capital value of your home as at 1 April 1991.
The council acts as a collection agent for:
- Leicestershire County Council
- Leicestershire Police Authority
- The Combined Fire Authority
These bodies set their own budgets and we bill and collect Council Tax on their behalf in addition to the Council Tax for services provided by OWBC.
Council Tax Regulations give everyone the right to pay in monthly instalments, usually over 10 months. Payments are due on 1 April ( or 15 April if paying by direct debit) and each month thereafter until 1 January. If payments are not made by the due dates shown on your Council Tax bill reminders are sent promptly. If these are not paid in full within 7 days, recovery action will continue which may remove your right to pay by instalments. The full year then becomes due and payable in full.
For further information visit our web page Advice if your Council Tax is in arrears.
The Regulations give some discounts in specific cases. However, homes that have been unoccupied for more than 28 days, and are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished usually pay 100% Council Tax.
Councils are given some discretion within the Regulations on the amount of discount allowed for empty properties. Most Councils, including OWBC, have opted to allow the smallest or no discount in order to encourage empty homes to be occupied as quickly as possible.
If you are jointly liable for the council tax then your council tax benefit will only cover the percentage of the council tax for which you are liable. For example if two people are jointly liable and you claim council tax benefit but the other person doesn't then only your 50 per cent of the council tax will be paid by council tax benefit.
You may have a "non-dependant" living with you (this is someone aged 18 or over who is not legally dependent upon you), and an amount is deducted from your housing benefit based upon the circumstances of the non-dependant. The housing benefit scheme expects that the non-dependant will contribute towards the cost of the rent.
The Council administers housing and council tax benefit in accordance with the requirements of local and Government targets to reduce fraud and error. These involve reviewing housing and council tax benefit entitlement of all claimants on a regular basis. Such reviews can be by telephone, letter or visit and the Council employs all of these methods. In most cases visits will be by prior appointment but sometimes it is necessary to carry out an un-notified visit.
If you are someone who, because of age or disability, cannot get into one of the Council's benefit contact points, then you can ask for the Benefit Visiting Officer to come to see you at your home. Council Officers always carry an identity badge, issued by the Council. Please make sure you check this badge before letting anyone into your home.
|2011 September 29||17 Oct 2011||Unpaid Debts Written Off by Council|
Last updated: Wednesday, 21 October 2015 4:33 pm