Millions of households will be subjected to council tax rises of almost 5% in April, it has emerged.
A investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed that at least 28 local authorities will hike council tax bills by 4.99% for the 2017/18 tax year, which starts on 6 April.
It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May gave councils permission to raise council tax bills by an additional 3% this April, on top of the 1.99% already allowed, to cover the rising cost of social care.
Hampshire, East Sussex, Wiltshire, Bristol, Nottingham and Leeds are among the local authorities named in the survey carried out by the Sunday Times that will increase council tax by this figure. More than 50 other councils are reported to be hiking bills by a lower percentage.
Here, we explain how council tax is calculated and what you can do to appeal against the cost of your council tax bill.
How your council tax bill is calculated
Council tax rates are set by your local authority – but your overall bill also depends on the ‘valuation band’ of the property you live in.
Properties in England are put into one of eight bands (A-H), depending on the price they would have sold for in April 1991.
In England, the charge for a property in band A is always two thirds of the charge made for a property in band D. Those living in band D properties pay half compared to those living in band H properties.
In Wales and Scotland, it works slightly differently – find out more with our guide on council tax bands.
Councils were subject to a cap on increases of 1.99%, unless they hold a referendum. However, for the next two tax years, larger authorities are allowed to increase bills by a total of 4.99% without a vote, provided the additional funds are put towards adult social care.
Surrey County Council has already announced plans for a 15% council tax rise, with a vote set to take place in May.
How to lower your council tax bill
If you believe your council tax bill is incorrect as a result of an error by your local authority, you can appeal to it in writing. If you disagree with the council’s decision, or it fails to respond within two months, you can then appeal to a valuation tribunal.
If you disagree with the valuation of your property, you can apply to have it revalued by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
The Valuation Office Agency website has a useful questionnaire, which will tell you whether this appeal is likely to be accepted.
Among the circumstances considered are whether the dwelling has recently been converted, whether it’s used for business purposes or whether changes to your neighbourhood may have affected your property’s value.
It may also be worth checking our guide on council tax reductions to see if you qualify for a discount.