Discretionary Council Tax Support Payment (DCTSP) Policy 2024/2025

In this policy:


1.1 A Discretionary Council Tax Support Payment (DCTSP) provides assistance to Council Tax Support (CTS) claimants who the Council considers to be in severe financial hardship and/or have exceptional circumstances and are unable to pay their Council Tax bill.

1.2 DCTSP’s are an exercise of the Council’s power under Section 13A(1)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This allows the Council to make further reductions to the Council Tax bill of an individual dwelling at its discretion.

1.3 DCTSP awards are discretionary, applicants do not have a statutory right to an award.

1.4 The Council has set aside a limited fund for the purposes of this policy, which may be revised at any time throughout the year. Once this fund has been exhausted, it will not be possible to award any additional DCTSP under this policy irrespective of the circumstances of each case or the volume of demand.


2.1 This policy sets out how DCTSP applications are decided, and the factors the Council considers when deciding whether to grant or refuse an application. We will act fairly, reasonably, and consistently in our decision making with each application decided on its own merits.  

2.2 There is an expectation that all applicants will take actions to improve their situation before applying for a DCTSP, this includes but is not limited to prioritising payment of Council Tax and fully engaging with any support they have been offered.

2.3 The DCTSP scheme is totally separate to Council Tax Support (CTS). Reading Borough Council has a separate Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) scheme for assistance towards housing costs.

2.4 The Council may choose to amend or replace certain criteria used in this policy during the financial year 2024/25 or in subsequent financial years.

Statement of objectives

3.1 Our DCTSP scheme is designed to meet the Council’s commitment towards helping vulnerable people within our area and has the following key objectives:

  • To enable the Council to consider making a further reduction in Council Tax to help people who experience financial difficulty as a result of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
  • To make a contribution to the alleviation of child poverty.
  • To support young people leaving care.
  • To provide short term financial assistance with payment of Council Tax for people going through personal crises or difficult events who are facing severe financial hardship.
  • To help people who have taken actions to help themselves.
  • To encourage and sustain employment.
  • To provide short term help for people requiring further financial assistance due to ill health or disability.

Criteria for an award

4.1 The applicant must be receiving CTS at the time of the application and for any period an award of DCTS is made.

4.2 When deciding an application, the following will be considered:

  • Information already submitted to the Council, specifically in relation to a Housing Benefit (HB), DHP, CTS, or a homelessness application.
  • The amount available in the DCTSP fund at the time of the application.
  • The possible impact of not making a reduction using the DCTSP fund.

4.3 The financial and medical circumstances of the applicant, their partner, and any dependants as well as any other occupants of the applicant’s home will be considered, along with the following:

  • The income and expenditure of the applicant and their partner.
  • Any savings or capital held by the applicant and their partner.
  • The level of indebtedness of the applicant and their family.
  • Priority and non-priority debts of the applicant and their family.
  • If the applicant has an outstanding balance on their Council Tax account.
  • Payments made to the Council Tax account by the date of application.
  • If the applicant and their family’s circumstances are considered exceptional.
  • The effects of other welfare benefit reform changes affecting the applicant and their family.

4.4 Alternative means of support that may be available to the applicant will also be considered, including:

  • Re-profiling Council Tax or other debts.
  • Applying for a DHP (where applicable).
  • Ensuring all eligible welfare benefits have been claimed.
  • Increasing their hours of work.
  • Receiving a contribution from other adults living in the property.
  • Confirm that all other eligible statutory discounts/reliefs have been awarded.
  • Reducing outgoings, for example, using social tariffs
  • Whether the spending priorities of the applicant should be rearranged to afford the Council Tax charge.

4.5 The applicant must satisfy the Council that all reasonable steps have been taken to resolve their situation prior to application, including whether they have received and acted on debt and/or benefit advice or other support offered

What DCTSP cannot pay

5.1 DCTSP cannot be awarded for the following:

  • Where full Council Tax liability is being met by Council Tax Support.
  • For any other reason than reducing Council Tax liability.
  • To pay for any overpayment of CTS caused through the failure of the applicant to notify changes in circumstances or where the applicant has made a false representation whether in error or fraudulently.
  • To cover enforcement fees including summons and Enforcement Agent fees.
  • Bank charges caused by non-payment of Council Tax

Making an application

6.1 A Discretionary Payment application must be submitted to the Debt Advice Team for assessment. An application can be made by:

  • online at www.reading.gov.uk/discretionary-payments    
  • A paper application that can be requested by contacting Debt Advice Team on 0118 937 2197.
  • Support can be provided to make an application from the Debt Advice Team if an online or paper application cannot be completed. 

6.2 An application can be made by the person liable to pay Council Tax or by someone acting on behalf of them where it appears reasonable in the circumstances. We require signed authorisation from the liable person to discuss their application with anyone acting on their behalf.

6.3 A new application will be required when an award ends. Each application be considered afresh and not automatically

When does the application have to be made?

7.1 Applications should be made as soon as the need arises and will relate to the financial year within which it is submitted.

7.2 Applications for a prior financial year must be made within one month from the date of that demand notice. Applications received outside one month will be considered where a continuous good cause for not applying sooner is provided, in exceptional circumstances, at the Council’s discretion.

Assessment of applications

8.1 Decisions will be made within 10 working days or as soon as practical of receiving the DCTSP application, along with any supporting evidence requested.

8.2 Each DCTSP application will be considered on an individual basis. All decisions will be notified in writing by letter or email.

8.3 When deciding whether to award a DCTSP, we will consider the following:

  • That any award made is fair to other Council Tax charge payers and CTS claimants.
  • The likelihood of any future changes affecting the applicant’s financial position.
  • The information supplied in the application to explain any exceptional circumstances or financial hardship.
  • Whether other information and advice was acted upon
  • The amount of income and capital available
  • Outgoings
  • Any DCTSP already received within the financial year.

8.4 When calculating the total household income any awards of Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) will be disregarded or offset against specific costs associated with ill health or disability. This will be considered on a case by case basis.

8.5 When further information is required, it will be requested, failure to supply information within a month of the request will result in the application being unsuccessful.

8.6 A decision to refuse an application due to requested information not being provided can be reviewed if the missing information is supplied within one month of the decision with a request for the decision to be reviewed.  

8.7 The assessment process may require an interview with a member of Reading Borough Council’s Debt Advice Team, where the circumstances of each individual case and further information can be considered before a decision is made.

8.8 The applicant will be signposted to other Council departments such as Housing Advice or Social Services or to external agencies if it is considered this would help.

Payment of DCTSPs

9.1 DCTSP awards are made by reducing the applicant’s Council Tax balance.

9.2 The Council may increase or decrease an award when there are changes circumstances.

DCTSP dispute process

10.1 DCTSP’s are not payments of benefit and are not subject to a statutory appeals process.

10.2 Where the applicant is dissatisfied with a decision, they must write to or email the Debt Advice Team within one month of the date of notification and request a review of the decision. The request must state why they disagree with the decision made and, if necessary, provide supporting evidence.

10.3 A different officer will consider the request, along with any new evidence or information within a month.

10.4 If required further information will be requested before a decision is made. Where additional information or evidence is not provided within a month, the review will be made based solely on the information held.

10.5 Where it is apparent that the original decision was made in ignorance of a material fact, either because that information was not available at the time the decision was made or because the information was overlooked, then the decision will be revised accordingly.

10.6 Once the decision has been reviewed a letter will be sent advising whether the original decision has been revised or the grounds that the review was unsuccessful.

10.7 Where the applicant remains dissatisfied with the outcome of their review request, or where the Council has failed to come to a decision on the request as discussed above within two months of the date of request, the applicant (or their appointed representative) may then submit an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service within two months of receiving the Local Authority’s decision.

Policy review

11.1 This policy will be reviewed annually, or in response to any legislative changes, welfare reform or other factors that impact on its effectiveness.


12.1 This DCTSP policy will be publicised, and information will be provided to relevant agencies, stakeholders, and other Council departments, as appropriate.

Fraud prevention

13.1 The Council is committed to the prevention and tackling of fraud. Where fraud or potential fraud is suspected the matter will be investigated.

13.2 Fraudulent applications for DHP’s may lead to a criminal prosecution under the Fraud Act 2006.

Governing legislation

 14.1 Section 13A(1)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended by Section 10 of the Local Government Finance Act 2012.


15.1 Reading Borough Council, Debt Advice Team, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU

Debt Advice Team:  0118 937 2197 Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9am-5pm, Weds 10am-5pm
E-mail: debt.advice@reading.gov.uk  
Customer Fulfilment Centre:  0118 937 3727 Mon to Fri 9am-5pm
Online: www.reading.gov.uk/discretionary-payments and                                                 www.reading.gov.uk/debtadvice

Last updated on 28/03/2024