FAMILIES in England will be hit with bigger bills this year as local governments hike council tax rates.
Councils across the country are preparing to increase taxes by up to 5% in April.
Many local authorities are planning to increase council tax payments in 2022 to balance their budgets following extra spending during the pandemic.
The money residents pay in council tax funds state schools and local services such as rubbish collections.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the latest budget that local authorities could hike the rates by up to 3% without having to hold a referendum.
On top of that, they can add an additional 2% which is ringfenced for adult social care.
Some could add even more to the adult social care portion, as it can be carried over from last year.
The amount you'll pay is determined by the local council and depends which "band" the property you live in falls under.
Your home's band is based on its value – the more expensive the property, the more council tax will be charged.
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How can I check how much my council tax bill will go up by?
Councils are starting to publish their draft budget proposals for the 2022/23 financial year, which is where you'll find information on the rise.
For example, Stoke-on-Trent residents are expected to be hit with a 2.99% increase, according to the council's budget plans.
People living in Southend-on-Sea are facing a hike of 3.99%, which includes 2% for adult social care – 1% of which has been carried over from last year.
Meanwhile, households in Telford and Wrekin will only see their bills go up by 1% – which is just for adult social care as there is a council tax freeze.
Keep an eye on your council's website if they haven't yet made the information public.
Check which council tax band your property falls under to work out how much the increase will cost you.
You can find your local council by using the gov.uk search tool.
You'll then be sent a council tax bill in April outlining how much you owe.
Residents can choose to make payments over a period of 10 months.
You can also opt to pay an instalments over 12 months if you prefer – although you won't benefit from a pause in payments at the end of 2022.
How can I get help with my council tax bills?
If you're concerned about paying your council tax bill, there could be help available.
Apply for a council tax reduction
You might be able to get your council tax bill reduced, but it depends on your personal circumstances.
Reductions are available households claiming certain benefits, those on low-incomes, and people with caring responsibilities.
The discounts range from 25% to 100%, which would mean you wouldn't have to pay any council tax.
The exact amount depends on:
- Where you live
- Your circumstances (for example your income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
- Your household income – this includes savings, pensions and your partner’s income
- If your children live with you
- If other adults live with you
You'll need to contact your local authority for more information and apply for a council tax reduction directly.
Get your council tax band changed
Another way to reduce your tax bill is to get your property's band changed.
Thousands of households saved money last financial year by getting their council tax band reduced.
If you're successful, you could get a refund worth several thousands of pounds and hundreds knocked off your annual bill.
Experts estimate that up to 400,000 properties are still in the wrong band – meaning thousands of people are overpaying.
If you challenged your band with the council you might not be successful, and you could actually end up paying more if they think you should be in a higher paying band.
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