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31 May 2021

Council tax rates for 2022-23: will your bill be more expensive from April?

Some households will see bills increase by more than 5% next month

Residents in Sandwell with a band D property will see the biggest increase in their council tax bills in April, which are set to rise by 5.16%, according to Which? analysis of the latest government data for the whole of the UK.

Which? found that every local authority in England and Wales has upped its rates for 2022-23 - but not all councils have taken advantage of the full capped increase; those with a band D property in Bridgend, for example, will see their bill increase by just 0.72% this year, while those with band D properties in the Shetland Islands will see no increase on their bill this year.

There will be some respite in April for residents who qualify for the government's £150 council tax rebate - part of a package of measures to help with rising living costs that were announced in February.However, not everyone is eligible, and the benefits of the one-off payment may have worn off by the time the next bill is due.

Here, Which? reveals how council tax bills vary across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, along with tips on how to reduce your bills and what your options are if you're struggling to pay.

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How much will your council tax increase by?

The average band D council tax bill has increased by 3.5% in England, up £67 compared to 2021-22.

The map below shows the percentage increases for council tax band D across England, Scotland and Wales, using data from gov.uk, gov.scot and Stats Wales. It also includes the percentage increase in domestic rates for residents in Northern Ireland based on data from nidirect.

In England, there is an official cap of 2.99% this year, comprising a 1.99% council tax rise and an additional 1% precept for social care - but some 286 councils across England and Wales are raising their bills by more than this.

There are 86 councils increasing council tax rates by more than 4% this year, including Guildford, Pembrokeshire and Hartlepool. Hartlepool had raised council tax bills by just 0.33% between 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Sandwell is the only local authority in the UK to raise its bills by more than 5%.

The majority of Welsh local authorities have opted for smaller price rises; of the 22 local authorities in Wales, 12 have opted for council tax rises of 3% or less. Residents in Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Blaenau Gwent will see their council tax rise by less than 1%.

Similarly, in Northern Ireland - which has domestic rates, rather than council tax - all residents will see their bills increase by less than 2% this year. In Antrim and Newtonabbey, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, and Newry, Mourne and Down rates bills will increase by less than 1%.

Of the 31 local authorities in Scotland, 21 are raising band D council tax bills by 3% for 2022-23 - this comes after many chose to freeze rate rises last year when the Scottish government said it would pay the equivalent to a 3% tax rise to any councils that froze their rates.

However, those with band D properties in the Shetland Islands will see no change to their bills for another year.

Who pays the most council tax?

Places with the largest council tax increases don't necessarily pay the highest council tax bills.

Those living in Rutland will pay the most for band D council tax, at £2,300.03 for the year following a 4.8% rise to their bills.

As we've seen in previous years, Westminster still has the cheapest council tax; here, those living in a band D property will pay just £865.78 for the year - even after a 4.4% increase.

You can even find that council tax changes dramatically if you were to move just a few streets away. For instance, residents in Wandsworth in south London will pay just £872.55 on a band D property this year, while those in neighbouring Richmond-upon-Thames will be charged £2,021.53.

What if you can't afford to pay your bill?

Council tax is classed as a priority bill - i.e. the one you should pay before other household bills - as non-payment means you can end up with having money taken from your wages or benefits, and eventually end up being taken to court.

However, if you're struggling to pay what you owe, there is help available.

If your income has dropped or you've started claiming benefits recently, contact your local council to see if you can get a council tax reduction, also known as hardship relief.

Depending on your circumstances, it may reduce your council tax bill permanently, or just for a limited time.

Your bill can be reduced up to 100%, but this will depend on where you live (as each council runs its own scheme), your circumstances, your household income including savings and pensions, and whether your children or any other adults live with you.

Other ways to reduce your council tax bill

There are a few ways to reduce your council tax bill - but many will depend on your circumstances.

Spread the cost across 12 months

Council tax payments for the year are usually spread across 10 months between April and January, giving bill payers two months off in February and March.

However, you can ask if your bill can be recalculated and spread across all 12 months instead. While you won't get any months off paying the tax, your monthly payments will be lower.

Check your council tax band

Under the current council tax system, properties in England, Wales and Scotland are placed into council tax bands, depending on their value on a certain date, along with their size, layout, character and location.

If you think your property has been placed into the wrong band, or changes since it was built means it should be moved into a different band, you can request a new valuation.

If you're moved into a lower council tax band, you'll pay less council tax in future and will also get refunded for the extra tax you've been paying. However, new valuations can also result in properties being moved into higher bands - if that happens, you council tax bills will become more expensive.

See if you can claim a discount

If you live alone, or live with someone who is disregarded for council tax purposes, you could qualify for a 25% single-person discount on your council tax bill.

If everyone in your household is disregarded, you should get a 50% discount.

However, discounts aren't always applied automatically, so if you think you're eligible you should write to your local council and explain why you think you should get a discount. You may need to provide proof of your circumstances.

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