Council Tax: The Disabled Band Reduction Scheme - how it works

If you, or someone you live with is disabled, you may be able to claim a reduction on your council tax. Here’s what you need to know

elderly woman looking relieved
(Image credit: getty images)

Disabled people face additional costs of £583 each month, as a direct result of their disability, according to the disability equality charity Scope. But, they may be able to save on council tax payments if they are eligible.

Disabled people may be able to get a council tax reduction through the Disabled Band Reduction scheme.

“For people living in a larger property than they would otherwise need, due to someone in the house being substantially and permanently disabled, the Disabled Band Reduction provides one way to save money on council tax”, says Fran McSweeney, head of national services at Independent Age. 

Here's how to get a council tax reduction if you, or someone you live with, is disabled.

What is the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme? 

With council tax, all homes are placed into ‘bands’, which range from A to H in England and Scotland, and A to I in Wales. The size of your council tax bill is dictated by the band you’re in ‒ the higher the band, the higher the bill.

The Disabled Band Reduction Scheme means that households which are the main residence of a disabled person may be moved down a band, and therefore qualify for a lower council tax bill.

There are certain criteria that need to be met however.

“The property must have features that are essential or highly important for the disabled person’s wellbeing”, explains Andy Shaw, debt advice policy officer at the debt charity StepChange.

“For example, the property might have an extra kitchen or bathroom that is required to meet the needs of the disabled person, or the property may have been adapted for wheelchair use”.

The extra rooms don’t need to have been purpose-built, however the property must be the person’s main home, and you can claim regardless of who is responsible for paying the council tax.

How much is the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme worth?  

The Disabled Band Reduction Scheme entitles you to pay one band lower, rather than offering a set discount figure from your council tax bill.

If for example you live in a band D property, then you would instead pay the band C rate for your area, should your application for the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme prove successful.

Should you live in a property on the lowest council tax band, which is band A, then you will get a 17% discount on your council tax bill. 

There’s no single amount you can save, as council tax bills vary depending on which area of the country you live in.

However as an example, let’s say you live in Central Bedfordshire, and currently pay the band E rate, meaning a council tax bill of £2,619. Under the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme, you could pay the lower band D rate, which would save you £486 a year.    

And if you live in the Folkestone and Hythe area of Kent in a band D property, you could save £235 a year paying the lower band C rate of council tax.

How to apply for the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme 

You can apply for the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme on the government’s website. 

Once your local council receives your application, they will usually be in touch to arrange to visit your home to check you have a second bathroom, kitchen, or the extra space needed to qualify.

If your application is successful, you will still need to reapply for the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme each year.

What happens if your circumstances change? 

Should your circumstances change ‒ for example if the disabled person moves into different accommodation ‒ then you must tell your local council as soon as possible as you may no longer be entitled to claim the lower rate of council tax through the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme.

In most cases you have 21 days to tell your council about any change in circumstances. If you fail to do so you can be fined, or even prosecuted.

Other council tax discounts for disabled people

You may be able to claim a council tax discount of up to 100% of the bill if you, or someone you live with, is severely mentally impaired. 

You will need a certificate from your GP, or other medical professional, to certify this is the case.

In order to get the full 100% reduction, you need to live on your own, or have a carer living with you, who isn’t your partner, spouse or child under 18. Any other adults in your home would also need to qualify as severely mentally impaired, or be full time students. 

You may be able to get a reduced discount, typically 25% off your council tax bill, if you live with someone who is severely mentally impaired, and there are no other adults in the household or everyone else in your home who is ‘disregarded’ for council tax purposes. 

Sue Hayward

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!