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Listen to our parent adviser Jill explain the rules that
allow some carers to qualify for a discount on their council tax
bill if they are looking after a child aged 18 or
Council Tax bills are always based on the assumption that there
are at least two adults in your household. If there is only one
adult in a property, 25 per cent is deducted from the bill. This is
often known as the single person's discount.
However, when counting how many people live in a property, some
people can be ignored. A local authority will sometimes describe
these people as being 'invisible' for Council Tax purposes.
Being discounted as a child or disabled
The list of people classed as 'invisible' includes children
under 18 years of age, full-time students, most apprentices and
trainees aged under 25 and anyone who has a 'severe mental
impairment', for example learning difficulties or an autistic
spectrum disorder that severely affects intelligence and social
That disabled person must also get a disability benefit like Disability Living Allowance
(DLA) or Personal Independence Payment
(PIP) and provide a certificate from their GP confirming that
they have a severe mental impairment.
Being discounted as a carer
Some carers can also be treated as invisible for Council Tax
purposes. This includes a carer who is providing at least 35 hours
of care a week to someone who is not their partner or a dependent
child of theirs who is aged under 18. In addition the disabled
person must get:
Can I be 'invisible' as a carer if I'm looking after a
child in my family?
A parent who is looking after their child cannot be treated as
'invisible' if that child is under 18 years of age. This
restriction on dependent children applies to someone who is the
parent of a child, but not to other people caring for a child who
lives with them, for example grandparents.
A step-parent or someone who co-habits with a parent should also
be able to argue that this restriction should not apply to them, so
long as they have no parental rights in respect of the disabled
What happens once my disabled child turns 18
If you are the parent of a disabled child who is turning 18 and
they live with you, make sure you get advice about whether this
will mean you qualify for a discount in your Council Tax
How do I work out if I should get a discount?
To work out whether you can get a discount you should first
write down all of the people aged 18 years or over in your
property. Cross out the name of anyone who falls under one of the
groups that can be classed as 'invisible'.
If you are left with two or more names you won't get a discount.
If you are left with one name you will get a 25 per cent discount.
If all of the names are crossed out you will get a 50 per cent
Sanjeev and Riya both care full time for their son Anil who has
just turned 18. Riya gets Carer's Allowance as their son's carer.
However Sanjeev also provides more than 35 hours a week care to
their son. Anil has a severe learning disability and gets the
highest rate of the DLA care component. No-one else lives in the
household except for their other son, 14 year old Pranav.
Pranav is invisible as he is treated as a child. Anil is
'invisible' for Council Tax purposes because he is an adult with a
severe learning disability. Now that their son has turned 18 years
of age, both Sanjeev and Riya should also be 'invisible' as
full-time carers. As everyone in the household is classed as
'invisible', they should get a 50 per cent discount in their
There is no rule restricting the number of people in a household
that can be 'invisible' as carers, so each carer in your household
who meets the criteria should qualify. You also don't have to be
getting Carer's Allowance. So long as a carer is providing at least
35 hours care per week, this should be sufficient.
How do I apply for a discount?
To apply for a discount contact the Council Tax department
at your local council. You can ask for a discount to
be backdated to the date the qualifying conditions were first
met. However, seek further advice if you live in England or Wales
and are looking for more than six years' backdating.
If you are refused a discount and you think your council has
applied the wrong tests, you can appeal that decision by appealing
in writing to your local Council Tax Office.
The size of your Council Tax bill depends on the Council Tax
'band' that your property falls into. The higher the Council Tax
band, the higher your bill will be. However, you may qualify for a
reduction in the banding of your Council Tax bill if someone in
your household is 'substantially and permanently disabled'.
Will I qualify for a disability reduction?
A Council Tax disability reduction is not means-tested, so it
makes no difference what income or savings you have.
To get a disability reduction there must be a disabled person
(this can be a child) living in your property and one of the
following must also apply:
How much is the reduction in my bill?
If you qualify, your property is treated as if it were in the
next Council Tax band below. For example, if your property is
valued under band D, you will be billed as if it were in band C. If
your property already falls within the lowest band - band A - your
bill will be reduced by 1/6th. Once awarded you must
re-apply for a disability reduction for each new financial
Applying for a disability reduction
To apply for a disability reduction, contact the Council
Tax department at your local council. You can ask for a
reduction to be backdated to the date the qualifying
conditions were first met. However, seek further advice if you live
in England or Wales and are looking for more than six years'
A Council Tax reduction is help with a Council Tax bill for
people on lower incomes. Whether you qualify for a Council Tax
reduction and how much will depend on your family circumstances and
your income and savings.
In England each council has its own Council Tax reduction
scheme. This means that the amount of help that you can get varies
depending on the council area where you live. Scotland and Wales
each have their own national Council Tax reduction scheme although
you must still apply via your local council.
To find out whether you will qualify for a Council Tax
reduction, and if so how much, you can use the
benefit calculator on our website.
Council Tax only applies to England, Scotland and Wales. In
Northern Ireland people pay rates instead.
If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with
paying your rates through the Rate Relief Scheme or through a rate
How do I apply for a rate relief?
There are different versions of rate relief depending on whether
you own or rent your home and whether or not you get Universal
Universal Credit claimants
Rate relief has been replaced by rate rebates for those on
Universal Credit. Both home owners and tenants who get Universal
Credit can get a rate rebate. You need to make an
application for a rent rebate online.
Not a Universal Credit claimant
Some people who are not on Universal Credit can apply for rate
relief instead. How you do this differs depending on whether you
are a tenant or an owner-occupier. To find out more information if
you are a home-owner see
An introduction to Housing Benefit Rate Relief for Home-Owners.
If you are a tenant you can find out more at
Housing Benefit and Rent Relief for tenants.
Disabled person's allowance
An allowance that reduces your rates bill by 25 per cent is also
available if a property has been adapted to meet a disabled
occupant's needs or if your property has extra space because on
occupant's disability. This allowance is not means-tested so it
makes no difference what income or capital you have.
You can find out more on the NI