Council tax will rise by 5% for millions this year - costing households an extra £100

Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 12:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 12:50 pm
The Treasury allow councils to set their own budgets up to a fixed amount (Photo: Shutterstock)

Millions of households could see their council tax bills rise by an extra £100 this year, as more than half of councils plan to increase costs.

Last year’s spending review gave councils permission to raise council taxes from April 2021, with the additional money to pay for rising police and council care costs.

This would mean that households would have to pay up to £109 more on average for their bill.

Councils to set their own budget

More than half of UK councils are looking to increase their council tax by the maximum five per cent, according to the Local Government Chronicle.

Families who live in the Bristol City Council, Kent County Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, West Sussex County Council and Lancashire County Council areas could all see their bills increase by the maximum amount.

The price rise comes following a rule change in 2015, which saw the Treasury allow councils to set their own budgets up to a fixed amount.

As such, councils can hike the cost of bills by two per cent without holding a referendum for local people.

The additional money from the council tax rise will mean that police and crime commissioners could earn an extra £15 per year, while councils will also be allowed to charge an extra three per cent more to fund social care in their local area.

The Treasury expects to get a windfall of nearly £2 billion if every local authority takes up the extra money.

How to check your council tax band

To check what council tax band you are in, people who live in England or Wales simply need to enter their postcode on the government website.

If you live in Scotland, you will need to enter your postcode on the Scottish Assessors website.

If you believe you are being charged too much, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.

Help with payments

Anyone who is over the age of 18 and either owns or rents a property must pay council tax.

However, not everyone will have to pay the full amount of council tax. Your bill may be reduced due to:

  • the reduction scheme for disabled people
  • discounts
  • Council Tax Reduction and second adult rebate

Reduction scheme

If there is someone (adult or child) living in a household who is substantially and permanently disabled, the council tax bill for the property might be reduced. The reduction is made by charging council tax on a lower valuation band than the one the property is in.

To claim a reduction you must show that a disabled person lives in the property, and also that the property has at least one of the following:

  • an extra kitchen or bathroom to meet the needs of a disabled person
  • any other room (except a toilet) which is mainly used by a disabled person to meet their needs
  • enough indoor space for a disabled person to use their wheelchair

You can check if you can get a reduction by using the ‘Apply for a Council Tax discount’ tool on GOV.UK. Some local councils ask for supporting evidence, such as a doctor’s letter.

Discounts

If only one adult lives in a property, they are eligible for a 25 per cent discount on their council tax bill.

Additionally, when working out how many people live in a property, some people are not counted - they are called ‘disregarded people’, and can include live-in carers, people who are severely mentally impaired, or are aged 17 or under.

A full list of disregarded people can be found on Citizens Advice.

Some local councils offer a discount of up to 50 per cent on a property which is empty and substantially unfurnished, or empty because it needs major repairs or alterations to make it habitable.

Councils also sometimes offer a second home discount of up to 50 per cent because no one lives there on a permanent basis. You can contact the local council where your holiday home or second home is located to find out if you can get a discount.

Council tax reduction

If you are liable to pay council tax you might be able to get:

  • a council tax reduction
  • a one-off discount of some or all of your arrears
  • second adult rebate, if you have someone living with you who isn’t liable to pay the council tax on your property
  • You won’t be able to get a second adult rebate as well as Council Tax Reduction. If you are entitled to both, you will get whichever is higher.

Further details on this can be found on Citizen's Advice.