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Average council tax bill to rise by £78 from April: check you aren’t overpaying

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

The average council tax bill in England will go up by 4.7% or £78 from 1 April, according to official figures.

This means the typical Band D council tax bill will go from £1,672 to £1,750 a year.

This is the second biggest increase in the last 10 years. Last year was the only year in a decade were the annual increase was higher, at 5.1%.

The average area Band D council tax will rise to £1,477 in London, £1,739 in metropolitan areas, £1,814 in unitary areas and £1,826 in shire areas, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said.

This is the fourth year of inflation-busting rises after councils were given the right to raise taxes by an additional 2% to fund social care. Before that, the tax had fallen in real terms.

More than half of adult social care authorities saw a rise in their bill for social care this year and Police and Crime Commissioners were allowed to add a maximum of £24 a year to council tax bills, up from £12.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “This year’s council tax hikes are about as welcome as a slap in the face with a wet fish. For the fourth year in a row we’ve been hit with inflation-busting rises, and this year the Police and Crime Commissioners were able to add more to the bill too – taking the average rise to 4.7%.

“To add insult to injury, it comes at the same time as a huge number of price hikes – including raising the cap on energy prices, increasing prescription and dentist charges, water bills, some mobile phone bills, Sky TV, car tax and the TV licence fee.”

She added: “An average council tax price rise of £6.50 a month doesn’t sound like it’s going to frighten the horses, but a few pounds here and there soon adds up, and if you don’t plan for these sneaky price hikes, it’s incredibly easy to be caught out.”

Homes are put in council tax bands from A (the lowest value) to H (the highest) or I in Wales. Band D is used in most comparisons as being the middle of the range.

The most expensive Band D council taxes are:

  1. Rutland £2,043
  2. Dorset Council £2,038
  3. Nottingham £2,038
  4. Lewes £2,024
  5. Newark and Sherwood £2,024
  6. Hartlepool £2,015
  7. Wealden £2,012
  8. Durham £1,993
  9. Oxford £1,989
  10. West Devon £1,987

Are you paying too much council tax?

There is a chance you are paying too much council tax, so it’s worth checking.

Council tax bands are based on what your house was worth at a particular point. In England and Scotland, it was 1 April 1991 and in Wales it was 1 April 2003. All houses had to be valued at the same time and because this was such a large job, some properties were put into the wrong band.

You can challenge your valuation but remember that challenges can be rejected, and your valuation can go up or down, so it’s worth doing your homework first.

Firstly, find out what your neighbours are paying by either asking them or searching the GOV.UK website. You can find out which council tax band any property is in and if you find that your neighbours’ homes are in lower bands than your own, you may have grounds for an appeal.

The website Money.co.uk advises finding out your home’s value in 1991 when the tax bands were first set because if it was in the wrong band originally, it will have stayed there since.

You can use a house price calculator like this Nationwide one to get an estimated value of your house in 1991 and compare this with the tax bands on the GOV.UK website.

It’s worth remembering that any major works to your home could have altered its valuation and could be why your band is different compared with your neighbours’.

Other ways to cut your council tax bill

If you live alone, you’re entitled to a 25% reduction on your council tax bill. Adults with severe mental impairment are exempt from council tax so if they live alone, they have no council tax to pay, and if they live with an adult carer, council tax is reduced by up to 25%.