Council Tax: what it is, what it costs and how to save money

Council Tax is an annual fee you pay to your local council. The cost is set by your council and goes towards funding local services. Find out more about Council Tax and how to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to.

What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is a yearly payment that your local council charges you and sets each year. Normally you have the option to pay it monthly in instalments.

How much Council Tax you pay depends on:

  • Your personal circumstances
  • Which valuation band your property is in
  • How much the council needs to fund its services

What does Council Tax pay for?

If you’ve been overpaying on your Council Tax for years, you might be entitled to a refund worth thousands of pounds.

Local services are funded by Council Tax. This includes:

  • police and fire services
  • leisure and recreation projects such as upkeeping parks and sports centres
  • libraries and education services
  • rubbish and waste collection and disposal
  • transport and highway services including street lighting and cleaning, and road maintenance
  • environmental health and trading standards
  • administration and record keeping, like marriages, deaths and birth, and local elections

Council Tax isn’t used to pay for health services.

What is my Council Tax band?

England and Scotland have eight Council Tax valuation bands ranging from A (the cheapest) to H.

Wales has nine bands – from 1 (the highest) to 9.

Northern Ireland has domestic rates based on rental values rather than Council Tax.

Northern Ireland has domestic rates based on rateable capital valuation rather than Council Tax. You can find out more on the NI Direct website.

If your home is in a higher valuation band than it should be, you’re probably paying more Council Tax than you need to.

How much Council Tax must I pay?

The amount of Council Tax depends on your home and where you live.

Find your local authority and how much you need to pay using the links below:

Each of the links above will get you to your local council’s website.

From there you’ll need to find information on Council Tax.

You might also be able to contact them directly and ask.

Can I get a reduction?

You might be able to get a reduction on your Council Tax if:

  • You’re a student or you live with students
  • You live alone or are the only adult in your home
  • You’re on a low income and don’t have much money saved up
  • You get certain benefits, such as jobseekers allowance or income support
  • You or someone you live with has a disability and as a result needs to live in a larger home
Find out more on GOV.UK.

Lower your property’s valuation band

Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland are in the wrong Council Tax bands. Welsh homes were more recently evaluated and are less likely to be in the wrong band.

If you think you’re overpaying Council Tax because you’re in the wrong tax band, you might be entitled to a refund.

To get this refund you’ll need to ask for a review.

But remember: the review might lead to your council putting your property in a higher band.

To find out how to get your tax band reviewed, visit MoneySavingExpert.

Complaints about Council Tax

You’ll normally have to complain to the council first. This should take no longer than 12 weeks.

But if you’re unhappy with the outcome, or if they are taking too long to resolve your complaint, you might be able to complain to the Local Government Ombudsmanopens in new window.

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