HOUSEHOLDS could see their council tax bills jump by up to 5% in April – adding £100 more to their bill.
The Treasury gave the green light for the tax hike in last year’s spending review, and the extra cash raised is earmarked to pay for rising police and social care costs.
Over half of households are in for the maximum council tax rise according to research from the Local Government Chronicle, with over half of councils looking to bump bills up by 5%.
So how do you check if your council has hiked prices?
We explain what we know so far.
How do I check your council tax bill
Councils will be able to increase council tax bills from April.
So you should be able to check then to see how much more you might be paying.
You can check on the gov.uk website to see how much your council tax is by looking at which band you’re in.
You might also want to ask your local council ahead of April to see whether they are planning a tax hike.
Some authorities, such as Bristol City Council, are holding consultations on how much extra people are willing to pay for their council tax bill – so you can have your say on whether paying more would be a struggle.
And others, such as Newcastle City Council, have announced that they’ll be cutting council tax bills for thousands of households instead.
It’s not clear exactly how local councils will alert you if you’ll have to pay more.
But we’ve asked the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for more information and will update you as soon as possible.
You can find your local council through the gov.uk website.
Which authorities are increasing council tax?
Some councils have already announced plans to hike council tax bills up in April.
Salford council is to increase council tax by 5% and Stockport council by 3.5%, according to reports from Manchester Evening Standard.
And Shropshire council is to bump up bills by 3.99% according to the Shropshire Star.
It’s best to check in with your local council to see whether you’ll be affected by council tax increases.
What if I’m paying more than I think I should be?
You might find that you’re already paying more for your council tax anyway even before a tax hike, according to Martin Lewis.
The MoneySavingExpert founder urged Brits to check their council tax band last month to see if they’ve been paying more than they should be.
As many as 400,000 homes are potentially in the wrong council tax band.
Martin tweeted a guide on how to check if you’re paying the right amount.
The first step is to check what council tax band your neighbours are on – you can then see if it matches your band.
Finally, you'll also need to work out how much your property was worth in 1991, as this is when council tax was launched by the government.
MoneySavingExpert has a free calculator tool to help you do this, as well as a table on what band you should have been put in.
If you want to go ahead with a challenge, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.
How can I lower my council tax bill?
If the thought of a council tax increase is a cause for concern, there are a number of ways you can lower your council tax bill.
You can get 25% off if you live on your own, or if there is one adult and one student living in your home, or one adult and one person who is classed as severely mentally impaired.
You can get 50% off if you live with “disregarded people” – which means someone who does not have to pay council tax.
A live-in carer and someone who is severely mentally impaired fall under this category.
You can check out Citizens Advice for a full list.
If you live in an all-student household, or if you have a severe mental impairment and live alone or with a student, you can get 100% off your council tax.
A full reduction is also possible in households where someone under 18 is living with someone who is severely mentally impaired.
If you receive certain benefits, you could be eligible for a 100% discount on your council tax bill, although you should check in with your council to see what help they can offer.
If you have a second or a holiday home, you could also get 50% off your council tax bill.
And because of the coronavirus crisis, you might be able to get £150 knocked off your council tax bill.
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