Review of Council Tax single person discounts:
Wychavon District Council is currently conducting a review of all single person discounts granted to residents who live alone. This exercise is being undertaken by Civica on behalf of the Council.
Our aim is to provide residents with the best possible service during the review by offering clear instructions for completing the forms that should be returned.
However, on occasion, circumstances may not be so easy to explain. To help in this situation, we have included below, the most frequently asked questions that can arise throughout the period of the review.
Why have I been sent this letter?
The council has a duty to protect the public purse and to ensure that where a discount is awarded there is a genuine entitlement to that discount. We are simply verifying that you are still entitled to the discount.
How do I complete the form?
Please fill out and return the form to the address on the letter.
If you are the only adult over 18 occupying your property, simply tick the relevant box, sign and date the form at the bottom and return to the address at the bottom of the letter.
If there is more than one adult living at the property, please provide their name, date of birth, the date on which they moved in and their previous address. If you think they should not be counted for Council Tax purposes, for example if they are an apprentice or if Child Benefit is still in payment for them, you should tell us why. Evidence may be required such as a bank statement to show that you are getting Child Benefit for the person over 18.
We may need to contact you again for more information so it is helpful if you provide us with an email address or telephone number. Or, if you need assistance with what evidence you may need to provide, please email the Council Tax Review Team at: email@example.com or phone 0300 456 3528.
What happens if I don’t complete the form?
We will assume that your situation has changed and you are no longer entitled to the discount. Your single person discount will be removed and a revised demand will be sent to you.
What credit information do you hold on me?
We do not hold any credit information. If you want to see your credit file, you should contact any of the major credit referencing agencies:
What happens if I return the form after the 21 day deadline given?
As long as the form is returned within a reasonable amount of time, you will not be penalised. If the form is very late, you may end up receiving a reminder letter. If you do receive a reminder letter, you should complete the form as previously requested.
What should I do if someone is using my address for correspondence only?
Please provide their name and the address at which they actually live so that it can be verified. You can supply more information if you think it relevant to assist your claim.
I have already informed the Council of a change in circumstances. Do I need to complete the form?
Yes; please include all the details of your current situation.
I receive mail for the previous occupiers; what should I do about this?
You need to write on the envelope that the person no longer lives at the address and return it to the sender.
A friend stays with me three or four nights a week; does this mean I am no longer entitled to the discount?
If your friend keeps their belongings at your house it will be classed as their main residence and you will no longer be eligible for the discount. Some of the questions we may ask are:
- Where does your friend stay for the other nights? If they stay at various addresses but keep their belongings at your property, their main residence would be your address.
- What address do their doctor / dentist hold for them? If it is your address, it is their main residence.
- Does your friend work away and stay at your address on their days off? Your address would be their main residence.
You should provide as much information as possible – if necessary, you can use a separate sheet. If you are unsure, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
Who are Civica?
Civica provides services in revenues and benefits processing work for many local authorities throughout the country. Civica has a dedicated and specialist team of experienced Council Tax officers to carry out discount reviews. The law allows for the contracting out of Council Tax functions; you can find out more at www.gov.uk
What is data matching?
Civica matches the Council Tax database with third party sources and specialist validation services. Addresses of those in receipt of a single person discount are passed to an agency that runs a search to match other data sources such as the electoral register or credit agreements. The agency then provides Civica with a list of possible adults at the property.
Does it breach the Data Protection Act?
No. Civica holds the data for the correct purposes i.e. the levying and collection of a tax. The data is held for as long as required then destroyed. No database is compiled that could be shared with or accessed by other bodies or sources.
Claiming a Discount
The full Council Tax bill assumes that there are two adults living in a dwelling. If only one adult lives in a dwelling (as their main home), the Council Tax bill will be reduced by a quarter (25%).
If a dwelling is no-ones main home, from 1st April 2013 there will be no reduction in the liability which means that the liability for these scenarios will be 100%. This applies to unoccupied furnished dwellings and furnished second homes.
A property that has been empty for a period of up to six months since the last occupation date (as long as it remains empty and unfurnished) can receive a discount of 50% for up to six months, after which a 100% charge applies.
Newly built properties that are unoccupied and unfurnished will receive a 100% discount for 3 months, after which they will be liable for a 50% charge for the next 3 months, and then on expiry of that, a full charge.
From 1st April 2013, unoccupied and unfurnished properties in need of or undergoing major repair work to render them habitable or undergoing structural alteration, can now claim a 100% discount for a maximum period of 12 months, instead of an exemption. After 12 months a 100% charge applies.
Some people are not included when counting the number of adult residents in a dwelling, providing they meet the following conditions:
- full-time students, non-British spouses/dependants of students
- student nurses, apprentices and Youth Training trainees
- patients permanently resident in hospital
- people who are being looked after in care homes
- people who are severely mentally impaired
- people staying in certain hostels or night shelters
- 18 and 19 year olds who are at or have just left school
- careworkers working for low pay, usually for charities
- people caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
- members of visiting overseas forces and certain international institutions
- members of religious communities (monks and nuns)
- people in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of Council Tax or a fine)
- diplomats and members of international organisations headquartered in the UK
Job Related Second Home Discount
If you are required to live elsewhere due to an employment contract you may be eligible for a discount.
If you live in, and pay Council Tax for a property which your employer requires you to occupy, and you are liable for Council Tax on a second furnished property, you may qualify for a discount of 50%.
Who can qualify for this discount?
The job related second home discount will apply to either;
- The job related dwelling if it is the second home of you or your spouse/ civil partner i.e. not their main residence, or
- To another dwelling if the job related dwelling is your main residence or your spouse/ civil partner and you have another dwelling that is therefore a second home.
One of the properties must fall into Class A, B or C shown below:
A - The property is provided to you, or to your spouse/civil partner, because of your employment and it is necessary for proper performance of duties (as stated in your employment contract) i.e. tied accommodation.
B - The property is occupied as a residence from which you, or your spouse/civil partner, perform the duties of a Minister of any religious denomination.
C - You are in the armed forces and have your main residence in the UK in Ministry of Defence accommodation which is exempt from Council Tax under Class O.
This discount is not applicable:
- if you have a second property in the locality of your place of work but you do not perform the duties of your employment from that address. There must be a direct link between your work and the property, such as caretaker, landlord of pub, schoolmaster
- unless both your addresses are in England, Wales or Scotland
- If you are not the liable person for council tax at both properties (unless the property is provided by the ministry of defence or for a minister of religion to perform his duties)
- if you are a director or a partner in the company providing the accommodation (unless you are a full time working director/partner or the company is non-profit making or charitable).
How do I apply?
If you think you may be entitled to a discount, and this is not shown on your bill you should contact us. If your bill shows that an exemption or discount has been allowed and your circumstances have changed please let us know straight away.
If you don't you could be liable to pay a penalty of £70. If you continue to fail to provide the correct information you may be liable to pay a further penalty of £200.
If you would like to apply for a discount on your Council Tax bill please contact us.