More pensioners will be eligible for up to 100% off their council tax bills from April – but they have to apply to get it.
More council tax perks will also be open for the Windrush Generation and victims of child abuse in Scotland and Northern Ireland, who currently lose out through no fault of their own.
What has happened is that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is ordering local councils to be more generous about who can get council tax reductions.
Each local authority runs a scheme to give people above state pension age money off council tax if they have income below a certain level or get benefits like Pension Credit.
The government is now telling local councils to raise threshold by 3.1% from April – the same level as the rate of inflation in September 2021.
The idea is that, if a pensioner’s income has increased over the year, that they should not lose out on council tax reductions.
For example, in 2021-22 a single pensioner with a weekly income below £191.15 could apply for a 100% reduction in council tax.
For 2022-23 that figure will go up by 3.1% to £197.10.
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up said: “We do the annual uprating to maintain that, taking account of the impact of inflation, year-on-year someone with a low level of income will keep getting the same level of council tax support.”
But from April 6, more people who were victims of child abuse in parts of the UK or who got Windrush Compensation Scheme (WCS) payments will be eligible for council tax reductions too.
Many of these two groups have been getting payouts of thousands of pounds to make up for the abuse and financial hardship they suffered earlier in life.
However, getting the cash has meant many pay more council tax as a result, as councils can class it as income when working out tax reductions.
Now the government has ordered local councils to ignore any compensation paid to these groups when working out if they are eligible for a tax cut.
An unknown number of pensioners in Scotland and Northern Ireland were abused as children in the care system.
Governments of both countries have set up compensation schemes, with the Scottish one paying out from £10,000 to £100,000 per person.
The WCS pays out for people who settled lawfully in the UK before 1988, often from regions like the Caribbean and Africa.
However, they were often not given documents proving their legal right to live in the UK.
Many then could not get jobs, benefits, housing and health services.
These migrants became known as the Windrush Generation, after the Empire Windrush ship which brought many migrants to the UK in 1948.
Around £41million has been offered to Windrush victims, but only £35million has been paid out, the Home Office said last week.
How to claim council tax support as a pensioner
Pensioner on low incomes or getting certain benefits might be eligible for council tax support.
Each local authority has different rules so check with your local council about what you may be entitled to.
You can find your local council’s system, and how to apply here.