It’s likely you’ll have already received a bill from your local council outlining the council tax you’ll be charged for the 2018-19 tax year. If you haven’t – it’ll be coming through your post-box soon.
Due to changes in the way council tax rates are capped, some local authorities have been able to increase charges by up to 5.99% without the need to take a referendum.
But how do rates compare around the country?
We’ve collated the figures from all local authorities in England and Wales to see where council tax is at its most expensive, and where rates have increased the most since last year. Scotland hasn’t published its data yet.
What do the council tax changes look like?
The map below shows the percentage increases for council tax band D across England and Wales.
While the maximum increase is supposed to be 5.99%, some 18 councils are raising council tax by more than this.
The highest increase in England and Wales is in Pembrokeshire, with a 11.04% increase. Band D properties in this area will be charged £1,252.41 for 2018-19, whereas they would have only had to pay £1,127.90 in 2017-18.
Elsewhere, the residents of East Northamptonshire, will see their council tax bills go up by 6.15%, while those in Wiltshire will see a 6.41% increase. Bradford council has increased its rates by 6.05%.
Another 32 councils have applied increases between 5.8-5.99%, including Wirral, St Helens and Brighton & Hove.
It was expected that all councils would increase council tax by a significant amount, but that isn’t the case.
At the other end of the scale, Kingston-upon-Thames is only raising council tax by 0.83%, and those in City of London will see their bills increased by just 0.24%.
What is council tax spent on?
The money councils receive through council tax goes towards funding local services, such as the police, fire services, parks maintenance, refuse disposal, street cleaning and support for the elderly and other vulnerable people.
Each council is responsible for managing its own funds, with expenses varying from council to council.
This is why council tax rates in one local authority can be quite different from those neighbouring it.
Why have 2018-19 council tax rates risen?
In recent years council have only been able to increase council tax by 1.99% – any more than that would require them to hold a referendum.
The 2018-19 tax year has seen this cap increase to 2.99% without needing a vote.
An opportunity to increase council tax by a further 3% has also opened up to some councils – this is an extra ‘precept’ that must be spent on adult social care.
While councils do not have to implement these price rises, the fact that many local authorities have been struggling to fund council facilities means many have chosen to do so.
Council tax can be increased by a higher percentage, but the council would have to put the changes to a referendum.
How does council tax work?
Properties are placed in council tax bands based on what their value would have been on 1 April 1991 for England and Scotland, or 1 April 2003 for Wales.
This is calculated by taking into account the property’s size, layout, character, location and change of use (if applicable).
- Find out more: Council tax bands
Those in Northern Ireland pay domestic rates, rather than council tax. This is worked out by multiplying the rateable capital value of a property by the combined total of the domestic regional rate and domestic district rate. This gives the ‘domestic rate poundage’ for each area.
- For more on domestic rates in Northern Ireland, see our council tax bands guide.
What can I do to reduce my council tax bill?
There are several instances where you can apply to have your council tax bill reduced, depending on who is living in the property, what the property is used for and whether the property has changed.
Changing your council tax band
If you feel your property has been put into the wrong council tax bad, you can request a revaluation from the VOA. This could mean you’re moved down council tax bands if the property has been converted into flats, for example.
Be aware that changing your home’s valuation could also result in a higher council tax bill if the VOA puts you in a higher band.
Claiming a single-person discount
If you occupy a property on your own, you are eligible for a 25% discount on your council tax bill.
There are also a number of instances where you can have others living in the property, but can still qualify as being a single person. You could still qualify for a 25% discount if you live with any of the following:
- an apprentice studying for a recognised qualification
- a young person (under 25) in approved training
- a full-time student (attending university or college, or under the age of 20 and studying A levels or their equivalent)
- an 18 or 19-year-old in full-time education
- a student nurse
- resident hospital patients
- people living in care homes
- people who are severely mentally impaired
- people staying in hostels or night shelters
- carers (providing at least 35 hours’ care a week) if they are not the main resident’s husband, wife or civil partner
- monks and nuns
- members of visiting forces
- individuals with diplomatic privileges and immunities.
Second home discount
Some councils offer a 10% council tax discount on holiday homes, and 50% on second homes for tenant publicans or members of the clergy who are provided with accommodation as part of their work.
You’ll need to pay full council tax on the property that is your main home to be eligible for this.
- Find out more: Reducing your council tax bill – for details of additional discounts
This article was updated at 3pm on 29 March to reflect updated council tax figures provided by HMRC.