Council Tax discounts and exemptions

We calculate your Council Tax bill on the basis that there are at least two people aged 18 or over living in your home. Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to pay less for your Council Tax or your property may be exempt.

If you apply for a discount or exemption, you must continue to make the payments shown on your Council Tax bill until you are advised whether your application has been successful and you have received a revised bill.

We may review any discount or exemption that has been allowed. If you receive a form in connection with this and your circumstances have not changed, you must sign and return the form if you want your reduction in your bill to continue. Where this is not returned the reduction will be cancelled without further notice.

If your bill shows a reduction in the amount of Council Tax you have to pay, and your circumstances change which means you may no longer be entitled to receive this reduction, you must let the Council know within 21 days from the date of the change. If you do not tell us, this may lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £280.

Single person discount

If you are the only adult living in your property, you can apply for a single person discount to reduce your Council Tax bill by 25%.

If you already receive the single person discount and your child reaches the age of 18, or another adult gives up their home and moves in to your home, you must cancel your single person discount within 21 days of the change.

If a relative has moved in with you temporarily during the COVID-19 outbreak and they have a home elsewhere that they will return to when the outbreak ends, your Single Person Discount will not stop. 

Council Tax discounts for disabled people

To qualify for a reduction, your property must be the main home of at least one disabled person. This can be an adult or a child - it doesn’t have to be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax.

Your property must also have features that are essential, or of major importance, to the well-being of the disabled person, for example:

  • a room (other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet) that is used predominantly by the disabled person
  • an additional bathroom (excluding a toilet) or kitchen required to meet the needs of the disabled person
  • adaptations to allow the use of a wheelchair inside the property

The reduction will be equivalent to re-banding your property into the next lower Council Tax band. The reduction for Band A properties will be the equivalent of one 9th of Band D.


You can only apply for a student discount or exemption if:

  • you are the liable person for Council Tax purposes; and
  • you are a full time student, or the property you live in is occupied by one or more students, school or college leavers.

Households where everyone is a full-time student do not have to pay Council Tax and should apply for a student exemption online. If there is someone in the household who is not a full-time student, you might still qualify for a discount.

However, if two or more people living in the property are not qualifying students, no reduction is allowed.

You’re classed as a full time student for Council Tax purposes if you’re:

  • enrolled at a college, university or similar, and your course lasts for at least one full academic year, which involves at least 24 study weeks in each year, with an average of 21 hours of study a week
  • under 20 years old, and you’re enrolled on a course which lasts more than 3 months (for example, A level, ONC and OND Standard) and involves at least 12 hours of study a week, between the hours of 8am and 5.30pm
  • over 18 years old but your parents receive child benefit for you. This will automatically be awarded where we are aware of your entitlement to child benefit
  • under 20 years old and left school or college after 30th April. This disregard will automatically be awarded until your 20th birthday or the 1 November after you finish your course (whichever is the soonest)
  • on your summer holidays between the years of your course
  • taking a study break but remain enrolled with the college or university and intend to return to your studies
  • a foreign language assistant at a school or college in Great Britain and you’re registered with the British Council for Educational Visits and Exchanges

You’re not classed as a full-time student for Council Tax purposes if you’re studying on a correspondence course, evening class or on a course connected with your job, or if you’re taking a gap year.

To claim your student discount or exemption, you’ll need to provide proof of your student status in the form of a student certificate (not letter of enrolment) from the university or college you are attending. You can usually get this from your university or college website. Each student in your property must provide a student certificate.

Your student certificate must show:

  • the official university or college logo
  • your unique student identification number or code
  • the issue date
  • a signature from the Certification Officer

If you do not provide the necessary certificate(s), any discount/exemption you may be entitled to won’t be applied.

Second homes

There is no discount for second homes. Full Council Tax is charged. This includes properties that are unoccupied but furnished between tenancies.

Empty and unfurnished homes

There is no discount for empty and unfurnished homes. Full Council Tax is charged. This includes properties which require, or are undergoing, major repair work or being structurally altered.

Properties that are left empty and unfurnished in the long term will face increased Council Tax charges known as Long Term Empty Premiums (LTE). This means that:

  • from April 2019, the Council Tax charge on properties empty for more than 2 years increases by 100%
  • from April 2020, the Council Tax charge on properties empty for more than 5 years increases by 200%
  • from April 2021, the Council Tax charge on properties empty for more than 10 years increases by 300%

If you are the owner of a property that attracts an LTE charge and you are having difficulty paying it please contact the council tax service.

If you want help or advice trying to sell your property please contact our private sector housing team by emailing

Second Adult Rebate

Second Adult Rebate is a Council Tax discount. You may be able to claim Second Adult Rebate if you:

  • have reached the age for claiming State Pension Credit
  • are the only person liable to pay Council Tax in the household
  • have other adults living with you who are on a low income

Usually, you can’t claim Second Adult Rebate if you are jointly responsible for paying Council Tax with someone else.

If, however, you are jointly responsible with someone who isn’t counted for Council Tax purposes, you may be able to claim Second Adult Rebate.

If you already get Council Tax Support, you will not need to claim Second Adult Rebate.

If you are entitled to Council Tax Support and Second Adult Rebate, you will get the one that gives you the most money. The most Second Adult Rebate that we can pay is 25% of your Council Tax bill.

The person who is responsible for paying the Council Tax bill, not the second adult, must make the claim for Second Adult Rebate.

We need to know your National Insurance number and see proof of their identity. We’ll only need proof of the second adult's income and capital.

Your income and savings won’t affect your entitlement to Second Adult Rebate because it is based on the other person's circumstances.

Uninhabitable homes

There is no discount for uninhabitable homes, or for properties that are undergoing major works. Full Council Tax is charged.

Other Council Tax discounts

Please contact us if you’d like to claim any of the following discounts:

Student nurses

Properties occupied only by a student nurse, or by student nurses, are entitled to a 50% discount.

You are classed as a student nurse for Council Tax purposes if you are studying for your first Inclusion on the Nursing Register. You should be taking a course which leads to registration on any Parts 1 to 6 or 8 of the register maintained under Section 10 of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979. You should be enrolled for the purpose of attending a full time course of Education at a college of nursing and midwifery or a college of health established by a regional Health Authority or University.

If you are already on the Register but are taking a further course you will not qualify for a discount.

You will be classed as a student, rather than a student nurse, if you’re:

  • studying for an Advanced Diploma in Nursing Studies, or
  • a nurse or health visitor on a relevant full time course based at a college or university, or
  • on a course leading to registration on Parts 10 or 11 of the register as a First inclusion
Apprentices/youth trainees

If you or someone who lives with you is an apprentice or a youth trainee, you may be entitled to a 25% discount. Properties occupied only apprentices and trainees are entitled to a 50% discount.

To qualify as an apprentice you should be:

  • employed to learn a trade, business or profession, office, employment or vocation and
  • undertaking a programme of training which will lead to a qualification recognised by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) and
  • earning less than £195 a week.

To qualify as a youth trainee you should be:

  • under 25 years old and
  • receiving training in line with an individual training plan under the National Traineeship scheme

People aged 18 or over who are on remand, in prison or in some other form of detention, are not counted for Council Tax purposes. This includes people imprisoned or in custody under the Armed Forces Act 1976 or detained for more than 48 hours under the Army, Air Force or Naval Act or detained awaiting deportation.

If a property is left unoccupied due to the single owner going into prison, the property will be exempt from Council Tax until their release and return to the property.

If the property is left unoccupied due to the single tenant going into prison, the property will be exempt from Council Tax until their release and return to the property, or until the tenant relinquishes the tenancy or the tenancy is terminated in their absence.

Where a household consists of 2 occupiers and one has been detained in prison, a discount may be granted, on receipt of confirmation of the date admission to prison.

A discount will not be granted if there are still 2 or more people in the household over 18 who are counted for Council Tax purposes; or if the prisoner is in prison for non-payment of either Council Tax or a fine.

Care, nursing and residential homes

A person residing in a care, nursing or residential home on a permanent basis will have the home classed as their sole or main residence.

If their home, immediately prior to admission to the care, nursing or residential home is left unoccupied and is still owned or rented by the person who is in care, it will be exempt from Council Tax from the confirmed date of admission.

If the account was originally sent in the name of the person who has gone into care, or jointly with a partner or other occupier, a revised account will be issued to the remaining occupier(s). If there is only one occupier left in the property a 25% discount will be granted.

Any remaining occupier(s) who were non-dependant(s) will be issued with a new account from the date of the previous occupier’s date of admission. If there is only one occupier a 25% discount will be granted. A final account will be sent to the person in care, via the next of kin at the property.

Hospital patients

If the applicant has been a hospital patient for a continuous period of 6 months or longer they will not be counted for Council Tax purposes. The hospital will be classed as their sole or main residence while they remain an in-patient. If they are in hospital for only a short time before returning home they will not be entitled to a reduction.

If the applicant is in hospital for a short time immediately prior to admission to a care, nursing or residential home on a permanent basis, a discount or exemption can be granted from the confirmed date of admission to hospital.

If the applicant is in hospital under certain sections of the Mental Health Act 1983, even for a short period of time, they will be disregarded from Council Tax, upon confirmation of the date of admission. (If in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983, they must be admitted under Part 2 or Section 46, 47, 48 or 136).

Persons classed as severely mentally impaired

People who are severely mentally impaired aren’t included when working out Council Tax.

A person is considered severely mentally impaired for Council Tax purposes if they have a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused), which appears to be permanent. This includes people who are suffering from a degenerative brain disorder such as Alzheimer's disease, a stroke or other forms of dementia.

To qualify, a doctor must confirm, on request, that his/her patient does have a permanent mental illness and in addition, to qualify for the disregard the person must be entitled to (though not necessarily in receipt of) one of the following benefits:

  • Invalidity Pension/Long Term Incapacity Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance/Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • highest/middle rate of care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Disabled Person's Tax Credit
  • increase in Disablement Pension (because constant attendance is needed)
  • Unemployability Supplement/Allowance
  • Income Support with disability premium
  • Employment and Support Allowance 

If someone lives alone and has a severe mental impairment, they will be exempt from paying Council Tax.

If all the people who live in a property are severely mentally impaired, the property is exempt, unless the property is a 'house in multiple occupation', where the landlord, not the tenants, is responsible for the Council Tax bill.

If you live in a property with one other person and you think you may qualify for a discount due to their severe mental impairment you should contact us.

If there are 3 or more occupiers in the property you may still be entitled to a discount if any of the other occupiers can be disregarded in their own right, for example as a full time student or a carer.


If you are a carer, you may be disregarded for Council Tax purposes if:

  • you must provide care for at least 35 hours a week.
  • you live in the same property as the person you care for.
  • you are not the spouse or partner of the person you care for, or their parent if you care for a child under 18

The person you care for must receive one of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • highest or middle rate of care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • an increase in Constant Attendance Allowance under the Industrial Injuries or War Pension scheme
  • highest rate of Constant Attendance Allowance payable on top of full rate Disablement Benefit paid in respect of an industrial injury

If there are more than 2 occupiers in the property a reduction may still apply because more than one person living in the same property can count as a carer.

For example

A married couple have a son over 18 years old. The son has been certified by his doctor as being severely mentally impaired, and the Department for Work and Pensions have confirmed he is in receipt of Highest Rate of Care Component of Disability Living Allowance. Both parents care for their son for at least 35 hours a week.

The son is not counted for Council Tax purposes as he has been classed as severely mentally impaired. Likewise his parents are not counted as they can be classed as his carers.

The personal element is removed from the Council Tax charge giving the household a discount of 50%. However if only one parent acted as a carer for the son a 25% discount would apply.

Carers working for a charity, the Crown or on behalf of a Local Authority

To qualify for a discount the carer should be:

  • providing care or support on behalf of the local authority, the Crown or a charity or be employed by the person they care for and have been introduced by one of these; and
  • live at the home where they provide the care, or at one provided by the local authority, the Crown, the charity or the person being cared for; and
  • provide care for at least 24 hours each week; and
  • earn a maximum of £44 each week
Council Tax Discretionary Discount

We can consider using discretionary powers given to us, under Section 13A (1) (c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, amended 2012, to reduce Council Tax liability, for either individual cases or class(es) of cases that we may determine, where national discounts and exemptions cannot be applied.  

This says:

  • where a person is liable to pay Council Tax - in respect of any chargeable dwelling - the billing authority for the area in which the dwelling is situated may reduce the amount the person is liable to pay, to such an extent as it thinks fit
  • the power under subsection 1) above includes the power to reduce an amount to nil
  • the power under subsection 1) may be exercised in relation to the particular case in which liability is to be reduced to an extent provided by the determination 

There is a financial implication to us for any Section 13A discretionary discount given and the financial burden of Section 13A discounts must be met through an increase in the general level of Council Tax for other taxpayers.

The applicant should have fully explored all other eligible discounts/reliefs prior to an application being made.

We consider all applications made by an individual on a case-by-case basis and decisions are made on the merits of each case.


Members of certain international headquarters and defence organisations and their dependants are not counted.

Members of a visiting force or a member of a civilian part of that force are not counted. Dependants of a member of that force are not counted providing that the dependant is neither a British citizen and does not normally live in the UK.

People living in certain hostels and night shelters provided for the homeless, for example those run by the Salvation Army and Church Army and have to share a kitchen, bathroom and living room are not counted. They must not be tenants. Staff who live and work in such hostels are not counted either.

A person who has diplomatic, Commonwealth or consular privilege immunity will not be counted so long as they are not British. Their dependants will not be counted either.

Council Tax exemptions

In certain circumstances you may be exempt from paying Council Tax when a property is unoccupied and is unfurnished, or has insufficient furnishings to enable someone to live in the property. In some cases a property can be occupied and an exemption will still apply.

Occupied properties

An occupied property is exempt from Council Tax if:

  • it’s occupied entirely by students
  • it's a student hall of residence
  • it's occupied by one or more person(s) classed as severely mentally impaired
  • the person who would be liable is a member of a visiting force
  • the only people living there are under 18 years old
  • the only people living there are diplomats and those working for certain international organisations
  • it’s part of another property (an annexe or a ‘granny flat’)
Unoccupied properties

An unoccupied furnished or unfurnished property is exempt from Council Tax if:

  • the resident has died and the liability to pay the bill falls solely on the deceased estate. The property is exempt until probate is granted or letters of administration are obtained and for up to 6 months after this
  • it's repossessed by a mortgage lender
  • the former resident (owner or tenant) is in a hospital or home receiving care. This must have been the case since the property became unoccupied.
  • the owner has moved in order to provide personal care to another person
  • occupation is forbidden by law, or if the property is kept unoccupied because of impending compulsory purchase
  • the former resident (owner or tenant) is in prison, except in cases where the resident is detained for non-payment of fines. This must have been the case since the property became unoccupied
  • the owner is a student and living elsewhere to study. The property must have been their former main residence
  • it’s a vicarage and similar property awaiting occupation by a minister of religion, from where they will perform their duties
  • it’s owned by a charity. The property can be exempt for up to 6 months
  • the person who would be liable is a trustee in bankruptcy
  • the property forms part of another property which can’t be let separately

Empty caravan pitches and boat moorings are also exempt from Council Tax.

If you own or live in a property which you think may be exempt, please contact us.

Contact Council Tax

0114 273 6633
Monday to Friday
8:30am to 5:30pm
PO Box 1310
Howden House
1 Union Street
S1 2SH

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