Changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme

In April 2013 the Government abolished the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme and since then each local authority has had to put in place its own local scheme.

In April 2013 the Government abolished the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme and since then each local authority has had to put in place its own local scheme.

Along with this change came a 10% reduction in funding for the scheme, which for the Council meant it had approximately £800,000 less to spend on helping people pay their Council Tax.

During the summer of 2015, we consulted on options for the scheme for 2016/17 and as a result, everyone who currently gets help with their Council Tax will see a reduction in the amount of support we are able to give in 2016/17.

As of 1 April 2016, those previously in receipt of full support for Council Tax will be asked to make a contribution of at least 20% of the Council Tax due for your property before the Council Tax Reduction amount is applied.

Annual Council Tax bills are issued in March each year and provide details of the instalments that need to be paid.

You can also register online to view your Council Tax balance, notices and instalments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme?

It is a scheme designed to help people on a low income to pay their Council Tax.

How do I get help to pay my Council Tax?

You will need to complete an application form so we can then assess if you are eligible.

Can I claim Council Tax Reduction?

You can claim Council Tax Reduction if you are liable to pay Council Tax for the property you live in. Council Tax Reduction is based on the income, savings and circumstances of your household and the amount of Council Tax that you have to pay.

Why is there a different scheme for pensioners?

The Government has set out the rule for pensioners, but has authorised the Council to set their own rules for those of working age.

I have never paid Council Tax before, why do I need to start paying now?

The Government has cut funding to local authorities and therefore the Council has to make savings on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. From April 2016 everyone will have to pay at least 20% of their Council Tax annual bill.

I am getting some help with my Council Tax bill, but am still struggling to pay. What can I do?

We are holding regular advice surgeries in our Newhaven and Lewes offices. Dates and times are published on our websites.

You can also contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0344 411 1444 or visit their website for further information.

Alternatively you can also call the East Sussex Welfare line on 0333 344 0681.

What will happen if I don’t pay?

We have a duty to all the other Council Taxpayers to collect the tax that is due, as it goes towards funding vital services, such as the Police, Fire Service and East Sussex County Council.

If you don’t pay we may take further recovery action against you and this may incur additional charges on top of the tax owed.

Exception Hardship Scheme

The Council have an Exceptional Hardship Scheme to provide additional support for those people who get a Council Tax reduction but are experiencing exceptional hardship. There is no statutory right to a payment from the fund as it is at the discretion of the Council.

All applicants will have to complete an application form and engage with the Council fully in the process. We will need to provide full details of your income and expenditure and may be asked to provide proof, for example bank statements. If appropriate, we will look at areas where your income could be increased or your expenditure reduced. If you decide not to take our advice we will not be able to make you a payment.

If your application is successful, the balance on your Council Tax account will be reduced.

Further information

Further information on how to pay your Council Tax.