Does the single person council tax discount also apply to single parents?

It can save you 25% on your council tax, but can you get the single person council tax discount if you live with your children? Our money expert explains

mother and daughter with bags on their shoulders walking down gravel path with bushes either side of them
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Those who live alone can qualify for the single person council tax discount, but does this apply to single parents who don't live alone, but live with their children?

When it comes to how council tax is calculated, it depends on multiple factors including where you live, which council tax band your property is in and how many people live in your home. 

Council tax is charged per property, not per person. The money raised is used to pay for the services your local council provides such as rubbish collection, playgrounds and libraries. It's officially based on two adults living in a home, so those who live alone can get a 25% discount. With the typical band D council tax bill now standing at £1,966, it means the typical solo dweller pays 75% of this, equating to a bill of £1,474.50 a year.

But with council tax due to go up in April, it's never been more important to understand whether your circumstances mean you can get a discount on how much council tax you pay. If you think you can't pay your council tax bill, contact your local authority as soon as possible.

Money blogger Joseph Seager, who runs the blog, says: “Right now, it is more important than ever to get the benefits and discounts you are entitled to. Even with energy prices fixed for the next two years, they are still double what we were all paying just 12 months ago. 

“One of the expensive bills coming out of your account every month is council tax. It is usually paid over 10 monthly instalments, giving you two months off in February and March. However, it can be shifted to 12 smaller payments should that work better for you.”

You can also check out Martin Lewis' council tax tip that could save you £100s.

Can single parents get the single person council tax discount?

Single parents can get the 25% single person council tax discount, but only if they are the only adult living in the property. If another adult, such as a partner, lodger or flatmate lives with you, then you won’t get the discount. But if it’s just you and your children – and they are aged under 18 – you’ll be eligible for the 25% reduction.

Mather and Murray Financial independent financial adviser Samuel Mather-Holgate says: “You can use the government website to apply for single person discount. If you are the only adult living in the property, or you live with young adults in full time education, you could receive up to 50% off your tax bill.”

In general, if someone stays with you for a short period (such as a few weeks) this won’t affect your single person discount. But if they stay with you for longer then you’ll need to let the council know.

How to claim the single person council tax discount

With most councils, you can register for the single person discount online. This is usually the quickest way but if you can’t get online, you can call the council instead. The name of your local council will be stated on your council tax bill. If you can't find your bill, you will also be able to find it by entering your postcode on the government website. You’ll need your council tax account number, which you will be able to find on your bill. If you can't find this information, it's best to call your local council rather than trying to apply online. 

If you want to claim the single person council tax discount because another adult has moved out of your home, you will normally need to provide their name, the date they left, and their forwarding address.

Can the single person council tax discount be backdated?

In some situations, you may be able to get the single person council tax discount backdated. However, you might need to provide evidence that you live alone and reasons as to why you didn’t apply before.

For example, Kingston Council states on its website: “You can apply for your single-person discount to start from a past date (called backdating, a maximum period of six years). We may request some proof to confirm entitlement for the whole of the period or the date from which the award should apply. If you are applying for a discount more than 12 months before the date of your application you should confirm the reason why your application has not been made earlier.”

Rules about backdating vary from council to council. Southwark Council, for example, will only backdate the single person discount for a year.

What should you do if your circumstances change?

If your circumstances change, you will need to let your local council know as you may no longer be eligible for the discount. When one of your children turns 18, your automatic eligibility for the single person discount will end. 

You should contact your local council and let them know when your child become an adult. You should also keep them informed about any other changes in circumstances, such as if another adult moves in. You may be fined if you don’t tell the council that you're no longer entitled to the single person discount.

Some councils run regular reviews to check eligibility for the single person discount. It’s important to complete and return any form sent to you. If you don’t, the council may assume you are no longer entitled to the discount and send you a revised (higher) bill.

Do you live with someone ‘disregarded’ for council tax?

There are circumstances where another adult you live with might be ‘disregarded’ for council tax. This includes if your adult child is still in full-time education, on certain apprenticeship schemes, a student nurse, or severely mentally impaired.

Check out our guide to what qualifies for a council tax reduction to see what you could be eligible for.

Can you get other council tax discounts as a single adult?

Some single parents may also be eligible for an additional council tax reduction, which is means-tested on your income. This is in addition to the single person 25% discount.

Each local authority has different criteria for who is eligible to claim a council tax reduction, for example you may be able to get a council tax reduction if you claim Universal Credit. The discount you’ll receive depends on your income and your savings. There are different rules for people of working age and those of state pension age or above.

Each local authority will set a figure for the maximum amount of savings and investments you and your partner can have to be eligible for a council tax reduction. This figure can vary quite a lot between local authorities, although it’s £16,000 for most council areas.

Some local authorities will look at your household income and how many children you have, to assess whether you’re eligible for a council tax reduction and how much. 

Other councils assume anyone who receives certain benefits such as Universal Credit or income support is on a low income and will therefore be eligible for a reduction.

Contact your local authority to see if you’re eligible for a reduction. You’ll need to provide supporting evidence for your claim such as your identity, income, benefits, and savings. The reduction could be anything from 20% to 100%.

Emma Lunn
Personal finance expert

Emma Lunn is a multi-award-winning journalist who specialises in personal finance and consumer issues. With more than 18 years of experience in personal finance, Emma has covered topics including all aspects of energy - from the energy price cap to prepayment meter tricks, as well as mortgages, banking, debt, budgeting, broadband, pensions and investments. Emma’s one of the most prolific freelance personal finance journalists with a back catalogue of work in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and the Mirror.