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Council tax bills to rise £66 – over a third of the ‘energy crisis’ rebate

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The average council tax bill will rise by £66 from April, swallowing up more than a third of the government’s £150 rebate to help with spiralling energy bills.

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The council tax bill for an average band D property in England is set to rise by 3.5% from £1,898.43 this tax year to £1,965.17 in April – a £66 difference.

According to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) which compiled the research, the tax increase “adds further pressure on households already struggling with soaring inflation and the cost-of living crisis”.

Last month the government announced a £150 council tax rebate for households in England which are in council tax bands A-D in a bid to help with the rising cost of living.

However, the one-off £150 payment – expected to be made to 20 million households/80% of homes – will be partially offset by rising council tax bills.

CIPFA’s tax survey, based on 331 questionnaires sent to authorities in England and Wales, with a 70% response rate, found that while council tax is set to increase almost everywhere in England and Wales, the level of increase varies between regions.

As an example, Greater London will face the highest rise of 3.7% (£60), although the bill will still be one of the lowest in the country at £1,682.56.

Meanwhile the bill for an average band D property in the Northeast is set to become the highest in the country at £2,105.95 – a rise of 3.5%, adding nearly £72 a year.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO said: “While households will have to find more money to pay relatively modest council tax increases compared to other bills, everyone recognises they will be facing a harsh squeeze on living standards. Soaring inflation means this squeeze will be the largest in a generation, with energy bills set to rise by 50%.

“Councils are facing significant pressures from inflation and the decision to increase bills will not have been taken lightly. Funding essential services is vital, but in the longer run we hope central government provides long-term sustainable funding and the devolution of fiscal powers to local authorities.”

Council tax rebate – watch for scams

Local authorities will use bank account details to credit accounts with the £150 council tax rebate, but for households who don’t pay by direct debit, they will be contacted by their council to claim.

However, households across England are urged to set up a direct debit with their local council to receive the rebate. This will make the process easier.

Plus, given the rise in scams over the pandemic, concerns are being raised that fraudsters may attempt to impersonate councils offering the rebate to steal people’s bank details and money.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said as part of the claims process, councils should help households verify that contact is genuine.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “Fraudsters will use every trick in the book to try and get victims to hand over their money and sensitive personal information, so people should be wary of suspicious calls from scammers using the council tax rebate as a ruse.

“Never feel pressured into handing over your bank details to a cold caller. If in any doubt about the legitimacy of a call, it’s best to hang up and contact your local council using its official phone number or email address to find out more information about the rebate.”

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