This blog answers the question “Can council tax reduction be backdated in Scotland?” It covers the process and requirements of council tax reduction schemes in Scotland, the process and condition of backdating and all the other necessary things you need to know about council tax structure in Scotland.
Can Council Tax Reduction Be Backdated In Scotland?
Yes, council tax reduction can be backdated in Scotland. There are various conditions and procedures that have to do with whether you are of working age or a pensioner, under which local council’s local jurisdiction you live, what is the reason behind late claim, and how late is the claim. These details are essential when determining whether council tax reduction can be backdated in Scotland or not.
Council tax reduction in Scotland
Council Tax Reduction is a scheme designed to help people who are low on income with the costs of the Council Tax bill for their normal home. You can claim a reduction on your council tax whether you own or rent your home and regardless of whether you are working, unemployed, retired or a carer.
Council Tax Reduction is administered by your council under regulations set by the Scottish Government, so the exact procedure and details depend upon your local council.
The conditions for you to qualify council tax reduction are:
- You are on a low income;
- You do not have more than £16,000 in savings;
- You have more than £16,000 in savings, but you receive the guarantee part of Pension Credit;
- Your home is in band E, F, G or H and your income is less than £321 per week if you are single or £479 per week if you are a couple.
How to apply for Council tax reduction in Scotland
To apply for Council Tax Reduction you need to provide evidence of the income and savings of yourself, your partner and of other people residing at your property.
Under Housing Benefit law your claim for benefit must be made in writing. Normally the council starts your claim from the Monday after they receive your application form. It is therefore very important that you can send your application form to your local council as soon as possible because it affects the date your benefit claim will start from.
Each local authority decides how you can claim council tax reduction. If you are also claiming other benefits, sometimes this is also treated as a claim for council tax reduction.
The following can be considered as a claim for council tax reduction:
- If you claim housing benefit to help with your rent using a form from your local authority, most local authorities use this form as a claim for council tax reduction as well.
- If you apply for universal credit, some local authorities treat this as a claim for council tax reduction.
Therefore, it is very important to contact your local authority and check what you have claimed, if you are unsure.
When to apply
If you do not have all the information do not delay applying, complete the form as best you can and send the rest of the information within a month.
Backdating your CTR
If there has been a reason due to which you could not, or were delayed in applying for Housing or Council Tax Reduction you can ask for your claim to be ‘backdated’ so that it starts from an earlier date.
Council Tax Reduction can sometimes be backdated so it is worth asking about this when you claim. Also, if you are already receiving Council Tax Reduction and there are changes to your income or who you live with, let the council know as they may need to change the amount you receive.
Rules for Backdating council tax reduction in Scotland
Different rules for backdating of council tax reduction apply in Scotland, according to your age.
If you are of working age and you want your benefit to be backdated, you should:
- state this when you make your benefit claim
- write a letter explaining why you have ‘good reason’ for not claiming any earlier
- provide evidence to back this up, such as a letter from your doctor or social worker
- If you are part of a couple you both need to show ‘good reason’ for not making the claim earlier.
If you are a pensioner
You can use the government State Pension age calculator to work out whether you are of State Pension age.
If you are of pension age you don’t have to give a reason for not claiming in time – you just have to show that you qualified for benefits during that time. You can get Council Tax Reduction backdated for up to three months. If you can show good cause why you have not applied earlier, your claim can be backdated for up to 6 months.
Time limit for Backdating
Usually the maximum amount of time you can get a council tax reduction to be backdated in Scotland is:
- Universal Credit or Housing Benefit can be backdated for a maximum of one month.
- Council Tax Reduction can be backdated for a maximum of three months, and you don’t need to show good reason if you are a pensioner.
- If you are of working age and you get certain benefits you can ask for the backdate to apply from the date you started to get these (so long as this is within one month of the benefit award date)
Acceptable reasons for late claim
To get council tax reduction to be backdated in Scotland, you need to state ‘good reasons’ that satisfy your local authority to grant you reduction from a backdate.
Some acceptable good reasons are:
- You have been unwell, physically or mentally, and were unable to manage your personal affairs.
- You have experienced a personal trauma or bereavement.
- You have difficulty communicating in English.
- You have difficulty reading or writing and have not been able to ask someone to help you.
- You were given incorrect information by someone who should know about benefits, like someone from the Department for Work and Pensions, or an adviser.
- Any other external factors which prevented you from making a claim such as a postal strike, imprisonment etc.
You might have another reason for your claim. It is usually not enough to say you did not realise that you would have been entitled to benefit, unless there was a good reason why you could not have investigated this yourself.
Requirements for backdating application
You need to prove your good reason.
A letter from one of these people can suffice as evidence to support your backdating request:
- Medical practitioner
- Health visitor
- Social worker
- Housing officer
- Support worker.
This list only gives examples, so you could ask someone who is not on the list to write a supporting letter.
Your name, address, claim reference and the date you want your claim to start from, as well as the reason you were late in applying for benefit are also required to be stated in your council tax reduction claim to be backdated in Scotland.
What happens next
After you have sent your application for your council tax reduction to be backdated in Scotland, you might be asked to give more information by your council. You need to provide this information as soon as possible, so that your claim can be processed quickly.
Once a decision is made you’ll receive a letter notifying you of the decision.
If you don’t hear back from your council, you should speak to someone from the benefit department to ask if they’ve received your request and if they have all the information they require.
Rules of some Local Councils
The general rules were the ones above described, for council tax reduction to be backdated in Scotland. But various councils have their own procedures and procedural requirements. The next section discusses a few of the local councils.
Aberdeen City Council
This council allows for backdating. It grants a limit of 3 months for applicants who are of pensionable age, 6 months duration to younger applicants.
The procedure to apply for backdating is to fill in the section E ‘Backdating’ on page 13 of its council tax form available at its online portal.
North Ayrshire Council
Page 23, Part 14 of the online form provides the applicant to claim council tax reduction from a backdate. All the necessary requirements are those demanded by the online form.
South Lanarkshire Council
This council has the following rules:
- Claimants of pension age may have their claim assessed from three months prior to the date of their application.
- Claimants of working age may have their claim backdated for up to one month before the date of their application.
It states to contact the Council Tax and Benefits Call Centre mentioned on their page, to clarify whether you are entitled to backdating or not.
In exceptional circumstances, if you show good reason for failing to claim earlier, this council backdates your entitlement to reduction from the date they receive your application form.
They look at your claim and notify you of their decision.
This blog answered the question “Can council tax reduction be backdated in Scotland?” It covered the process and requirements of council tax reduction schemes in Scotland, the process and condition of backdating and all the other necessary things you needed to know about council tax structure in Scotland.
How far back can council tax be backdated?
Generally council tax can be backdated up to 3 months for pensioners and 6 months for persons of working age,
Who qualifies for council tax reduction in Scotland?
Any person who is low on income, or has less savings, or is suffering from some disability and needs extra living space due to that disability, or has a severe mental impairment, qualifies for council tax reduction in Scotland.
Can single person discount be backdated?
Yes, single person discount can be backdated. The exact rules and limit for past date depends upon the individual councils.
How long can you be chased for council tax debt in Scotland?
You can be chased for as long as 20 years for council tax debt in Scotland. The council is bent on recovering any debt due to it.
What is considered a low income in Scotland?
If you are living on less than 60% of the average net disposable equivalised UK household income, you are considered to have low income in Scotland.
Can you go to jail for not paying council tax in Scotland?
No, you cannot be sent to jail for not paying your council tax in Scotland. But, the payment of council tax is not an optional payment. If you fail behind on your payments, you might find yourself under pressure from your local council and sheriff officers, who won’t let your life be comfortable.