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Council tax and business rates outstanding balance issues

We are currently experiencing a technical issue affecting the outstanding balance shown for Council Tax and NNDR accounts online. We apologise for the inconvenience and are working to fix this issue as soon as possible.

Council Tax Support

House with pound sign and helping hand at bottom

This page provides you with information about Council Tax Support and the Council Tax Support exceptional hardship fund.

What is Council Tax Support?

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme in Preston is called Council Tax Support and can help pay towards your Council Tax depending on your circumstances.

For further details you can download the  Preston City Council - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2024/25 (PDF) [1MB] .

Who can claim Council Tax Support?

Anyone who has to pay Council Tax can apply, however Council Tax Support is there to help people on low income to pay their Council Tax bill and is assessed by looking at your:

  • household 
  • any other adults living with you 
  • personal circumstances 
  • income

You will not be entitled to Council Tax Support if you have savings of over £16,000 (unless you are in receipt of Guaranteed Pension Credit)

How do you work out my Council Tax Support?

Once your application has been reviewed the Council will inform you if you have being successful and apply any reductions to your Council Tax bill.

If you are of working age you will pay at least 20% of your Council Tax bill. If you are entitled to Council Tax Support this figure will show as a deduction on your Council Tax bill.

Find out more from our page on How your benefit is calculated. You can also find out what you may be entitled too by using GOV.UK - Benefits calculators.

How do I apply for Council Tax Support?

To make a claim you need to complete an application form and provide us with the appropriate proofs.

Apply for Council Tax Support online

What do I need to provide to claim Council Tax Support?

We need certain information and evidence from you to process your claim as quickly as possible.

Please visit our page on What evidence do I need to provide?.

Uploading Documents

You can use our new My Scan app to send us your evidence documents.

It is a quick, easy and secure way to send us your documents 24/7 from home via your computer, tablet or smartphone.

My Scan ensures that documents securely land in our back office systems ready for processing.  

Visit our My Scan App

How long will it take to process my application?

Your application will be processed as soon as possible. You can help to speed up your application by making sure you supply all the right information. To find out what you will need to supply see our page on evidence needed for Housing and Council Tax Support claims.

I've only just found out I am eligible. Can I claim for previous months?

Yes - you can ask for your Council Tax Support claim to be backdated but it is not guaranteed.

The decision is made based on information you provide and your personal circumstances. See the Backdated benefit page for more information or complete the backdate request form.

What if I disagree with the way you work out my Council Tax Support?

After your claim has been assessed you will receive a letter explaining the information we have used to work out the amount of Council Tax Support. If you think the information used is incorrect you can speak to one of our Customer Service Advisors by telephoning 01772 906903, or you can make an appointment to see an advisor at the Contact Centre.

Benefit appeals

You can appeal to us against the amount of Council Tax you have to pay for either of the reasons below

  • You think that, under the rules of the local council tax reduction scheme, the council should have given you a reduction on the council tax you have to pay.
  • You think the amount of reduction the council have given you under the local council tax reduction scheme is not correct.

See the Benefit appeals page for more information.

What if there is a change in my circumstances?

If you have any changes to your income or savings, members within the household or move address you must inform us immediately of this so that your claim can be updated and the correct Council Tax Support amount awarded.

See the Change in circumstances page for more information.

I can't afford to pay, what can I do?

You must contact us straight away. We may be able to reduce your instalments and give you longer to pay. In certain circumstances we could make arrangements for you to pay your instalments weekly or fortnightly.

Is there any extra help for people who are struggling to pay?

An Exceptional hardship fund has been set up by us for those in need of assistance with paying their Council Tax. The fund is intended to help in cases of extreme hardship only. We recognise the importance of protecting our most vulnerable customers and the impact these changes will have and will attempt to protect and support those most in need.

Are other discounts and exemptions affected?

Other discounts and exemptions are not affected by this scheme. See the full list of exemptions and discounts on our Council tax discounts exemptions and reductions page.

Where can I go for help and advice?

If you need any help or advice you can speak to one of our Customer Service Advisors by telephoning 01772 906903, or you can make an appointment to see an advisor at the Contact Centre.

In addition to this our Welfare Benefits and Debt Advice team provide a free and confidential drop in or appointment service offering in-depth advice on welfare benefits and debt.

Council Tax Support - exceptional hardship fund? (EHF)

For those in need of assistance with paying their council tax, an EHF is available.

The main features of the fund are:

  • the operation of the fund will be at the total discretion of the council 
  • you do not have a statutory right to an award
  • the fund will be limited to an agreed sum
  • any fund award will be made directly to your council tax account
  • fund payments will only be available for outstanding council tax fees 
  • you can not apply for an exceptional hardship payment (or receive one) if you are not in receipt of council tax support at the time
  • the fund is intended to help in cases of extreme hardship only

How do I apply for the exceptional hardship fund?

You must make a claim for an exceptional hardship fund award by submitting an application to our benefits department. You can download the Exceptional Hardship Form (PDF) [82KB] or apply using the online form.

Apply for the exceptional hardship fund online

Paper forms

You can download an Exceptional Hardship Fund application form (PDF) [82KB] . You can also get assistance with the completion of the form by contacting the Contact Centre. The application must be fully completed and supporting information or evidence provided.

Completed forms should be returned to the address at the bottom of the page.

You may be contacted by a member of the benefits team and we may ask you to attend an interview to get all the information we need to decide on whether you can receive a payment and to discuss your claim in more details. We may ask you to provide some evidence to support your request.

This may include:

  • proof of a medical condition that affects you
  • proof of extra expenses
  • proof of custody and access arrangements for children who come to stay with you.

You should also send us details of the money you have coming in (if we don't already have this as part of your claim) and the expenses you have.

You can apply for an exceptional hardship payment if you are working age and in receipt of council tax support but cannot afford to pay your full council tax. If you delay, we may only pay you from the time you make a claim.

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