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Challenging a Council Tax Support decision

Find out more about Challenging a Council Tax Support decision.

1. What are my options?

If you think a Council Tax Support (also known as Council Tax reduction) decision is wrong you may be able to:

  • Ask for an explanation
  • Have the decision looked at again
  • Appeal against the decision

This guide takes you through these options.

Applies to: England, Scotland and Wales.

Advice: If you need advice about a benefits or tax credits decision, you should contact a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local one

2. Ask for an explanation

Important

You don’t have to ask for an explanation of the decision; you can ask to have the decision looked at again straight away.

You must have the decision looked at again before you can appeal against the decision
 

You should ask for an explanation of the reasons for the decision if you don't know whether the decision is right or if you want more information to help you challenge the decision.

Action

Contact the local authority using the contact details on your Council Tax bill and ask for an explanation of the decision.

If your first language isn't English, the local authority should provide an interpreter to explain the decision.

Tip

If you telephone the local authority, make a note of:

  • The date and time you call

  • Who you speak to

  • What is said

This may come in useful if you want to try to get the decision changed.

Time limits

There are strict time limits if you want to try to get a Council Tax Support decision changed. So, if you would like an explanation of the decision, you should ask for this as soon as possible.

Possible outcomes

After hearing the explanation, you may agree with the decision, or you may think the decision is wrong.

If you think the decision is wrong, for example, because it was based on information that was wrong or they did not have all the information, you should tell them. They may be able to change the decision without you needing to go any further or they can explain what you can do next.

If you still think the decision is wrong

You may be able to ask to have the Council Tax support decision looked at again, find out more on the next page.

3. Have the decision looked at again

If you think a Council Tax Support decision is wrong, you should ask the local authority to look at the decision again.

Action

Write to your local authority using the contact details on your Council Tax bill and ask them to look at the decision again.

Make sure you include the following details in your letter:

  • Your name and contact address

  • Your council tax reference number from your council tax bill

  • An explanation of the reasons why you think the decision is wrong. Include any information, such as relevant dates, to support your reasons

  • Any evidence that supports your reasons, such as copies of a letter from your doctor, a bank statement or a wage slip 

  • Your signature. 

You should send the letter to the local authority by 'recorded delivery' to make sure there is proof of when it was sent and also keep a copy of the letter.

A different decision maker will look at the decision originally made and the information you have provided and will decide whether the decision should be changed.

If they ask you for more information or evidence, you should provide this as soon as possible and let them know if there will be a delay.  

Time limits

You have one month from the date on the original decision letter to ask for the decision to be looked at again.

If you missed the deadline for reasons out of your control, such as illness or bereavement, you may still be able to have your decision looked at again. If this is the case, when you write to the local authority, you should explain why your request is late.

Possible outcomes

You should receive a written response within two months.

If the local authority decide that the decision is wrong, it will be changed and you will get a new decision letter.

If they decide that they can’t change the decision, they will write to you to confirm this and tell you if you have a right to appeal against this decision.

If you still think the decision is wrong

You may be able to appeal against the decision, find out more on the next page.

4. Appeal against the decision

An appeal is a way of telling the local authority that you think a decision is wrong.

You can appeal against a decision about:

  • Whether you are entitled to Council Tax Support (Council Tax Reduction)

  • How much you have been awarded under the local Council Tax Support scheme.

Appealing against a Council Tax Support decision in England and Wales

In England and Wales, when you appeal against a decision it will be looked at by an Independent Valuation Tribunal, which is completely separate from your local authority.

Action

You must make your appeal in writing.

If you appeal on the official appeal form, this can help you to give all the information that is needed.

In England:

You can get a copy of the appeal form or complete it online from the Valuation Tribunal for England website..

In Wales:

You can get a copy of the appeal form from the Valuation Tribunal for Wales website

If you appeal in writing without using an appeal form, make sure you include the following details:

  • Your name and contact address

  • The name of your local authority

  • The date you wrote to ask them to look at the decision again

  • The date they wrote back to you with their final decision

  • Your council tax reference number from your council tax bill

  • Why you think the decision is wrong, along with details to back up your reasons

  • Your signature.

Time limit

If you want to appeal you have two calendar months from the date of the local authority’s final decision. This is the date shown at the top of your decision letter.

If the local authority has not replied to you with their final decision within two months, you can still appeal as long as no more than four months have passed since you wrote asking them to look at the decision again.

Late appeal

If you missed the appeal deadline for reasons out of your control, such as illness or bereavement, you may be given more time to appeal. When you appeal, you should explain why it is late.

The Valuation Tribunal will decide if you have a good reason for appealing late and if your appeal can be accepted.

The Valuation Tribunal

The Valuation Tribunal will decide if you are legally entitled to a benefit and can change a decision if they think it is wrong.

You can appeal  against your council’s decision about

  • whether you are entitled to a council tax reduction

  • how much council tax reduction the council has awarded you under the local scheme.

The Tribunal cannot hear appeals about the contents of the council’s scheme, only about the way the scheme has been applied to your individual case.
 
It is important to know that the tribunal could make a decision that leaves you worse off.

The tribunal cannot:

*Change the law

*Deal with administrative complaints, like delay or poor service
(see complaints about your claim)

Consider changes of circumstances which have taken place since the decision was made - you may be able to make a new Council Tax support claim

For information about what happens when your appeal is received by the Valuation Tribunal, see the Turn2us information page on Valuation Tribunal Appeals.


Appealing against a Council Tax Support decision in Scotland.

Time Limit

You usually must ask for an independent review within 6 weeks of the date of the local authority's reply telling you about its internal review decision. This is the date shown at the top of your decision letter.

However,if the local authority has not replied to you within 2 months of you asking it to review its decision, you can apply for an independent review to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel.

Late appeal

If you missed the deadline for reasons out of your control, such as illness or bereavement, you may be given more time to appeal. When you appeal, you should explain why it is late.

The Council Tax Reduction Review Panel will decide if you have a good reason for appealing late and if your appeal can be accepted.
 

Council Tax Reduction Review Panel

When it has received your request, the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel (CTRRP) will contact you to make arrangements for your hearing and ask you to give further information.

The review hearing will usually be a paper hearing with written representations if everyone agrees to this.

The CTRRP will provide its decision in writing
 
If you are not satisfied with the CTRRP's decision, you can ask for it to be set aside if there is a good reason. You must do this within 14 days of the date that the decision was made, and you must give reasons for your request.
 
If the CTRRP sets aside its decision, the application for a further review must then be reconsidered. There is no further appeal. It may be possible to get a judicial review to look at the decision further. Specialist advice would be required for this.
 
You can find more information on the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel page of the Scottish government's website