Council tax reduction (sometimes called council tax support) replaced council tax benefit from April 2013.

Each council has a local council tax reduction ‘scheme’. This shows the rules that the council will use to work out whether a person should get a reduction and, if so, how much.

If you do not understand the way the scheme has been applied in working out your council tax bill, you must speak to your council. Click here to find your council’s website.

If you disagree with the council’s decision about your council tax reduction, in some cases you will be able to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.  The Tribunal is independent of the council.

You can appeal to us against your council’s decision about –

  • whether you are entitled to a council tax reduction
  • how much of a reduction the council has awarded you under the local scheme.

The Tribunal cannot hear appeals about what is in the council’s scheme, only about the way the scheme has been applied in your case.

The flow chart shows you the stages in making a council tax reduction appeal and getting a Tribunal decision. Click on any of the blue boxes to find out more.

Appeals against council tax reduction image map

To appeal against your council tax reduction (support) you must first contact your local council (billing authority) explaining what the problem is. The council should send you a written reply within 2 months and, if they do not agree with you, you can then appeal to us.

If the council has not replied within 4 months you can still appeal to us.

If you disagree with the council’s reply, and you received it less than 2 months ago, you can appeal to the independent Valuation Tribunal.

If you decide to appeal, you must contact us within 2 months of the council’s decision and include a copy of the council’s decision with your appeal form. You can either submit an electronic appeal form by following this link or download a form to complete offline by clicking here.  Or we can send you an appeal form if you contact us.

When we register your appeal, we send you a ‘pre-hearing’ enquiry form that helps us deal better with your appeal and any requirements you may have.

At least 2 weeks before the hearing, the council should tell you about any evidence they will use at the hearing.

Please try to provide as much evidence as possible to support your case. You will be allowed to:

• give oral and written evidence;
• present anything that you believe will help your case; and
• call witnesses.

The council’s evidence can appear fairly formal but we do not expect you to present your evidence in the same way as the council.

We send you a copy or a link to this guidance booklet, which gives more information.

You may find useful information on your council website, such as information about its scheme, and on www.gov.uk.

 

You may want to continue talking to the council about the notice to see if you can reach a settlement with them. If you do reach an agreement, please let us know.

You could attend another hearing before yours to see what happens. Please contact us if you wish to do this.

Nearer the day, if we can, we will give you an idea of the time when your appeal might be heard.

You may decide not to carry on with your appeal at any time. If you do decide to withdraw your appeal, please let us know. You can use this form or email us.

You may –

• request a postponement if you have a good reason for not being able to attend on the day; or
• appoint a representative to present your case for you.

It is always better if you can come to the hearing so that you can answer any questions that the panel might have and so you can ask the other party questions. However, there are other options –

• Appeal heard in absence procedure. This is when the appellant is not present at a hearing, but has submitted a written case to the Tribunal to be considered at a hearing where the other party will be present. The written evidence should be sent to the Tribunal and to all other parties 14 days in advance of the hearing date. For more information, please read Practice Statement B3 Appellant’s Non-Attendance.

• The decision without hearing procedure. In these cases, the parties have agreed that neither of them will be present at a hearing, and the Valuation Tribunal has agreed that this procedure can be used. The Tribunal will direct the parties to submit a written statement of case to the Tribunal and all other parties by a specified date. For more information, please read Practice Statement A6, Decision without a Hearing.

The hearing is as informal as possible and we will try to put everyone at ease, but these are judicial proceedings and a degree of formality is inevitable.

The panel will follow a procedure set out in Practice Statement B1, Model Procedure.

The panel will decide who will put their case first, but if you would prefer to give your case first or second, please let us know.

During the hearing:

  • the panel will ask you and the council to present your cases;
  • you will be able to ask the council questions;
  • the council will be able to ask you questions; and
  • the panel and the clerk can ask you and the council questions.

Before the panel retires to make its decision, it will ask you if you would like to summarise your case (in other words, go over the main points of your case again).

The panel will make its decision based on the evidence and argument presented to it, bearing in mind what the law (legislation and case law) allows. The panel will retire at the end of the hearing to deliberate and will call the clerk in to provide legal advice and to help draft the reasons for the decision. However, the clerk takes no part in the making of the decision.

The Tribunal’s decision is not announced at the hearing. We send you a decision notice, usually within one month of the hearing.

When we receive your appeal we send you a Notice of Acknowledgement and a guidance booklet.  We also send a Pre-hearing enquiry form for you to fill in.

We set the date for your hearing and send you a Notice of Hearing.

We will contact you by phone/email to see if you are coming to the hearing

We send you a Notice of Decision and a guidance booklet

There is a Practice Statement and Explanatory Note A11 to tell you more about these appeals.

Relevant legislation

These give the general law:

Local Government Finance Act 2012
Local Government Act 1992

These statutory instruments set out the rules under which we and the council have to deal with any council tax reduction appeals.

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012, Statutory Instrument 2012 No 2885
Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Default Scheme) (England) Regulations 2012, Statutory Instrument 2012 No 2886
Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, Statutory Instrument 2012 No 3085
Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013 No. 501)
Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009, Statutory Instrument 2009 No 2269
Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009, Statutory Instrument 2009 No 2270

Please remember that parts of this legislation may change. You will need to check that the legislation you use is up to date. Larger public and law libraries hold copies of legislation. You can also see legislation on the website www.legislation.gov.uk.

If you cannot find the information you need on our website, please call us on 0300 123 1033.

To appeal against your council tax reduction  you must first contact your local council (billing authority) explaining what the problem is.

The council should send you a written reply within two months and, if they do not agree with you, you can then appeal to us.

If you decide to appeal, you must contact us within two months of the council’s decision and include a copy of the council’s decision with your appeal form.

If the council does not write back to you within two months, you can still appeal to us, as long as not more than four months have passed since you wrote to the council in the first place.

You can either download a form to complete offline by clicking here, or complete and submit a form on line by this link.  Or we can send you an appeal form if you contact us.

Your council’s website will have details of the local council tax reduction scheme. This will explain the rules your council has made about the amount of council tax reduction a person might be able to claim.

You may also find more general information on the Government’s website, or you can get advice from Citizens Advice.

Appeals about council tax reduction will be listed for hearing as soon as possible after we receive all the information we need from you.

Normally, we will give you at least 6 weeks’ notice of the hearing date. However the regulations allow a minimum of 14 days’ notice, or less in exceptional circumstances.