If you live with someone who has dementia or learning difficulties, you might be eligible for a council tax discount, which could knock up to 25% off your bills.

Most adults have to pay council tax. You pay it whether you own or rent your home. If you live on your own, you are able to claim a 25% discount, known as the single person discount.

If you live with someone who has dementia then they get a ‘disregard’ rather than a discount.

How does the dementia disregard work?

If you live alone and have an illness like dementia or another illness which results in severe mental impairment, you don’t have to pay council tax. Instead, you qualify for what’s known as a disregard. This means that you don’t have to pay any council tax at all. Bear in mind this information relates to England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has a system of rates, not council tax.

Technically, if you qualify for a disregard, your property is exempt from council tax, rather than you being exempt. That’s because you’re the only person who could pay council tax (because you live alone) and you don’t have to pay it. The correct term for it is a Class U exemption.

If you live with someone else and qualify for the council tax disregard, they may have a lower council tax bill as well. This is because you are ‘disregarded’ for the purposes of council tax, so an adult who lives with you will be treated as if they live on their own. That means they are entitled to the single person discount and can claim 25% off their council tax bill.

You can explore the different ways you might be able to get a discount on your council tax bill in our guide Six ways you might be able to save money on your Council Tax bills.

Who qualifies for the dementia disregard?

In order to qualify for the council tax disregard, you have to:

  • Have a severe mental impairment. That could be as a result of dementia, Parkinson’s or another illness. Having a severe mental impairment is not linked to a diagnosis of a specific disease.
  • Have a ‘Council Tax Severe Mental Impairment Doctor’s Certificate’. A GP must sign the certificate to say that, in their view, the severe mental impairment is permanent. If you’ve had an accident that results in a brain injury, you wouldn’t necessarily qualify for a council tax disregard if a GP thought your severe mental impairment was temporary.
  • Be eligible for one of a list of disability benefits. The list is quite long, but it includes Attendance Allowance (at the lower or higher rate), Disability Living Allowance (receiving the higher or middle rate care components) or Personal Independence Payment where you receive the lower or higher rate of the daily living component. You can find out more about these benefits in our guide Benefits if you have a health issue or disability.

How do you apply for a council tax reduction?

You, someone with power of attorney or your carer, should contact your local authority, in the first instance. They will be able to provide a form to claim the council tax disregard.

It should be relatively straightforward to claim this disregard, discount or exemption. Charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society and Parkinson’s Society have information on council tax and help which you may be eligible for.

Can I make a retrospective claim?

Yes, if you think you’ve paid too much council tax in the past because you or someone you live with has been diagnosed with dementia or another mental illness, you can make a claim for a backdated discount. You should do this separately to any claim you’re making for a reduction going forward.

If you are making a retrospective claim, you’ll need to have evidence (for example, medical records) showing that you or your loved one met the criteria for a discount during the period you’re claiming for. You don’t need to provide an explanation for why you didn’t apply for a reduction in council tax sooner.

Rest Less Money is on Instagram. Check out our account and give us a follow @rest_less_uk_money for all the latest Money News, updated daily.