Council Tax discounts, exemptions and reductions

Depending on your circumstances we may be able to reduce the amount of Council Tax you pay.

If you are on a low income, you may be able to claim a Council Tax Reduction. Eligible residents can claim for up to a 100% reduction from Council Tax.

Council Tax discounts and disregarded people 

The Council tax bill for each band assumes there are at least two adults living in the property. If there is only one adult resident, you are eligible for a 25 per cent discount on your bill. 

Any person over 18 years of age is counted as an adult. The following people may not count when we look at the number of adults who live in your property: 

  • full-time students, student nurses, apprentices and youth-training trainees
  • patients living in hospital 
  • people looked after in care homes
  • people who are severely mentally impaired 
  • people staying in certain hostels or night shelters 
  • persons in respect of whom child benefit is payable 
  • 18 and 19 year olds who are at or have just left school 
  • care workers on a low income 
  • people caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18 
  • members of visiting forces and certain international institutions 
  • foreign diplomats and certain members of international organisations 
  • members of religious communities 
  • people in prison (except those in prison for not paying their Council Tax or a fine) 

Severely mentally impaired

People with severe mental impairment are not counted when looking at the number of adult residents in a dwelling if they meet certain conditions, including being in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • an increase in Disablement Pension
  • Unemployability Supplement
  • Constant Attendance Allowance payable under the industrial injuries or war pension schemes
  • Unemployability Allowance payable under the industrial injuries or war pension schemes
  • Income Support, which includes a Disability Premium because of incapacity for work
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Standard and enhanced rate of the daily living component
  • Universal Credit which includes an amount in respect of the fact that the person has limited capability for work or work related activity

You will need to provide a certificate from a registered medical practitioner.

Occupied exemptions from Council Tax

In most cases, if a property is occupied, it is charged council tax. However, there are exceptions and a property can be exempt if it is occupied:

  • halls of residence, if they are owned by a prescribed educational establishment
  • occupied only by students, school or college leavers or certain spouses or dependents of students if all the residents are students and are undertaking a full-time course of education at a prescribed education establishment
  • armed forces accommodation (UK Forces) owned by the Secretary of State for Defence
  • members and dependents of visiting forces
  • if all residents are under 18 years of age
  • if occupied by one or more severely mentally impaired person or if occupied by one person who is severely mentally impaired together with a person who is a student, school or college leavers or certain spouses or dependents of students
  • diplomatic immunity, if the property is the main residence of at least one person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred by the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, Commonwealth Act 1966, Consular Relations Act 1968 and the Commonwealth Countries and Republic Ireland Order 1985

Your property has an annex

You could be eligible for a 50% discount if your annex is:

  • occupied by a relative of the person liable to pay the Council Tax for the main dwelling
  • unoccupied, provided it is being used as part of the main residence of the person liable to pay Council Tax for the main dwelling

Unoccupied exemptions from Council Tax

Empty properties may be exempt from paying council tax if the property is empty because:

  • it is owned by a charity
  • the liable person is in prison
  • the liable person is a permanent patient in a hospital or care home
  • the liable person is deceased and probate or letters of administration have not yet been granted
  • nobody is allowed to live there by law
  • held for a minister of religion
  • the liable person is receiving care at another address that is not a care home
  • the liable person is caring for someone elsewhere
  • the liable person is living elsewhere to study 
  • the property has been repossessed
  • the trustee is bankrupt
  • it is a vacant caravan pitch or boat mooring
  • it is a vacant part of another property that may not be let separately due to planning restrictions

If you live in a particular property because of your job, different rules may apply. If your main residence is somewhere else, the job related home may qualify for a 50% discount. If it is your main residence, your other home may qualify for the discount.

Council Tax disabled reduction

You might be entitled to a disabled reduction if you, or someone living with you, needs a:

  • room
  • an extra bathroom
  • kitchen
  • extra space in your property to meet special requirements arising from a disability

Your bill may be reduced to that of a property in the band immediately below the band shown for your property. If you are already in band A, the lowest valuation band, you may still qualify for a reduction.

Discounts for care leavers

Care leavers will receive the following discounts up to their 25th birthday:

  • Care leavers who are solely liable to pay Council Tax in their own right will have their bill reduced to nil
  • Care leavers who are jointly liable to pay Council tax will have the bill reduced in proportion 50% (if 2 adults), 33% (3 adults), 25% (4 adults)

There will be no discount where the care leaver is not liable to pay Council Tax, except where the care leaver lives in a household where the liable person would be exempt if the care leaver did not reside with them. In this case full discretionary discount will be applied.

You can read more about the discount in Cumbria Care Leavers policy document

Discount for care workers

If they are working for low pay (not more than £44 per week), usually for charities and providing care for at least 24 hours a week

If you are caring for someone in your home with a disability who is not your spouse, partner or child under 18. You must provide care for at least 35 hours a week and the person you are caring for must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • an increase in constant attendance allowance under the industrial injuries or war pension scheme
  • highest rate of constant attendance allowance payable on top of full rate disablement benefit paid for an industrial injury
  • the standard and enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Empty homes

If your empty property is unoccupied and unfurnished you may be entitled to a 100% discount for six months. No discount is awarded after this period and the full Council Tax is due.

If your property is empty for one year or more, you will need to pay additional Council Tax, called a premium.

You need to tell us if you move into, sell or let the property so we can update your Council Tax details.

Tell us of a change of circumstance

If you own a second home

Furnished second homes are subject to 100% charge. However, some second homes may be eligible for a 50% discount.

You may be eligible for a 50% discount if you are:

  • responsible for Council Tax on two furnished properties, one of which is not your main home
  • required to occupy either property as a condition of your employment (and it is specified as part of your employment contract)

Apply for a discount, exemption or a reduction

You must apply in the area you live in.

Barrow area

Fill in the relevant form:

For other discount applications, please write to us by email or post.


Address: Town Hall, Duke Street, Barrow In Furness, Cumbria LA14 2LD

Eden area

Apply if you live in Eden

South Lakeland area

Apply if you live in South Lakeland

Contact the Council Tax team