Council tax support or council tax reduction is not claimed by millions of people who are entitled, says poverty support charity Turn2us
Millions of households are missing out on up to £900 of council tax help each, says a leading poverty charity.
Investigations by Turn2us has revealed that 2.7 million people in the UK are not claiming benefits they are entitled to that could reduce their council tax bills and lessen the pressure on monthly outgoings.
Unclaimed benefits risk pushing people into financial hardship or even poverty, says the organisation, which estimates 45% of people never check whether their earnings or circumstances mean they could claim additional financial support.
Council tax payments, for domestic properties, are fees collected by local councils to cover charges for the services you receive like policing, rubbish collection and libraries.
But investigations suggest a whopping £2.6 billion in council tax help went unclaimed by 2,700,000 people last year.
This equates, on average, to around £900 each, but as people claim through their own local authority for council tax reduction or help, and for differing reasons, the actual amount could be more or less.
Could you be entitled?
Council tax reduction or council tax support schemes are organised and run by local councils and if you're eiligble you can get a discount on your bill.
If you're on a low income or currently claim other benefits your bill could be reduced by up to 100% and people can apply if they own their own home, rent, are unemployed or are working.
According to the government what you get could depend on:
- Where you live - as each council runs their own tax reduction scheme
- Your circumstance - such as your income, the number of children in your home, other benefits and residency status
- Your household income - and this will include savings, pensions and any partner's wage
- If children live with you
- If other adults live with you
To help tackle the problem, Turn2Us has launched a new benefits calculator, which it describes as the most 'accurate and efficient tool' for people to work out what means-tested benefits they might be entitled to. It is totally independent and run by the charity for no profit.
Sonya Ruparel, director of programmes and partnerships at Turn2us, said: “There is an endemic issue of unclaimed benefits in the UK.
"The confusing, sometimes hostile, and often stigmatising world of social security has led to millions of people not claiming their entitlements. Our new tool sets out to simplify, de-mystify and compassionately support people to access the money they are due.
“Everyone who goes on to claim the benefits our calculator tells them they are entitled to receives an average of £5,320 a year. It is so important for people to check. We urge everyone to do a benefit calculation every six months as part of a regular financial health check.”
To find out more about claiming council tax support visit the government website here, which will also direct you to the council responsible for overseeing financial help where you live.