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Are You Eligible For Council Tax Reduction?

Scots on low incomes can claim a reduction on their Council Tax. It could amount to a saving of £750 a year and up to 35% off water and waste charges.

In October 2022 1,300 people in Orkney were able to benefit from the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, 456,790 recipients for Scotland as a whole.

Council Tax Reduction Figures for the month of October 2022

The number of people receiving the reduction has actually gone down in Scotland since last year which is why it is important to check to see if you are eligible.

Council Tax Reduction recipients by Local Authority: October 2021- October 2022

This benefit is available through the Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme introduced by the Scottish Government in 2013 to support people on low incomes.

To find out more information and how to make a claim click on this link: Discounts, exemptions and reductions

Responsibility for assisting those who need help with their council tax in Scotland sits with each local council.

For information in Orkney click on this link: Discounts and Exemptions Orkney Islands Council

Council Tax Discount OIC

25% Sole Occupant Discount

The Council Tax assumes that there are two or more residents in a dwelling, aged 18 years or over. If you are aged 18 years or over and live alone you may be entitled to a 25% discount.

Empty Properties and Second Homes

If a property is unoccupied and not considered to be the sole or main residence of any person aged 18 years or over it will be treated as either an Empty Property or a Second Home. Generally, these properties will only be eligible for a 10% discount of up to 12 months since the property was last occupied as someone’s sole or main residence. The discount does not apply to any water or waste water charges.

  • For the purposes of Council Tax, the definition of a Second Home is ‘a property that is no-one’s sole or main residence but is furnished and lived in for at least 25 days during any 12 month period’.
  • For the purposes of Council Tax, the definition of an empty property is ‘a property that is no-one’s sole or main residence and is not a second home’.

There are a small number of empty properties and second homes that are entitled to receive a discount of 50%. From 1 April 2019, this may include a second home where a person’s sole or main residence in Orkney is separated from their place of work by a body of water, the transport provision over which does not permit daily commuting between their sole or main residence and their place of work, and they occupy a second home in Orkney to enable them to maintain that employment.

Empty property surcharge of 100%

From 1 October 2019, once a period of 12 months has passed since the property was last occupied, any discount will end and a Council Tax surcharge of 100% will become payable.

Unfurnished and unoccupied empty property

If a property is both unoccupied and unfurnished (all moveable furniture must be removed), it may be possible to qualify for exemption for up to 6 months from the date the property was last occupied, followed by 50% discount for up to another 6 months, after which the discount will end.

25% discount for other persons in household

When counting how many people reside in the dwelling we do not take account of certain categories of persons – for example, if there are two residents in a property and one is a full-time student you will still be entitled to a 25% discount. There are many other categories of persons that are not counted, including student nurses, apprentices, youth training trainees, care leavers, the severely mentally impaired, long term hospital patients, care workers, prisoners, people in residential care, or members of a religious community. For more information please refer to the discount information leaflet and discount application forms in the Related Downloads section of this page.

Further advice and information

You can email the Revenues Team or telephone the Council on 01856873535 Extension 2133, or Direct Dial 01856 886322.

Council Tax – Disabled Reduction

If your dwelling has been adapted to meet the needs of a permanently disabled person who lives in the property you may be entitled to a reduction in your Council Tax. If you qualify for a reduction the dwelling will be placed in the next lowest Valuation Band. For example, if your dwelling had been placed in Band D it will be reduced to Band C. If your dwelling is already in the lowest Band, A, you will still receive a reduction.

The dwelling must be the sole or main residence of at least one person who is substantially and permanently disabled, and the dwelling has been adapted to meet the needs of the disabled person. This means that one of the following must apply:

  • there is a room, other than a bathroom, kitchen or lavatory which is predominantly used by the disabled person and is required to meet their needs;
  • there is a second bathroom or kitchen which is required to meet the needs of the disabled person;
  • there is sufficient floor space to permit the use of a wheelchair and the disabled person must need to use the wheelchair indoors.

Anything that refers to meeting the needs of a disabled resident must be essential or of major importance to their well-being by reason of the nature and extent of their disability. This means that without the room or space, the disabled person would find it is either physically impossible or extremely difficult to live in the dwelling; their health would suffer; or the disability would likely to become more severe.

Council Tax – Exemptions

Council Tax isn’t charged on some properties. Properties might be exempt because they are:

  • Unoccupied and unfurnished – up to six months’ exemption from the last date of 3 months continuous occupation.
  • Unoccupied because someone has moved to receive or provide care. This could be because of old age, disablement, illness, past or present alcohol or drug dependence, or past or present mental health problems.
  • Occupied solely by students.
  • Occupied solely by residents aged under 18 years.
  • Occupied by someone suffering from severe mental impairment.
  • Prevented by law from being lived in.

More information, including a full list of Council Tax exemptions, is available from the Related Downloads section of this page.

Severe Mental Impairment

One of the available exemptions includes a person who has a severe mental impairment of intelligence and social functioning, which appears to be permanent. The person must be entitled to a qualifying benefit and have the application for discount certified by a registered medical practitioner. 

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