From April 2018, core council tax bills across the UK could be hiked by local authorities by up to 3%, with some councils being able to add a 5.99% increase.
The council tax rise, which was announced by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid earlier this week, means councils will have the power to raise the tax by 3% as opposed to the 2% limit currently in place, without having to seek further authority through a referendum.
Councils that provide social care – county councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts and London boroughs – can currently increase the bill by 4.99% on their own authority, which will be increased to 5.99% in April.
The move means that those in Band D homes could be paying an extra £95 per year, based on average levels, although the rise will depend on the area.
LGA chairman Lord Porter said: “Years of unprecedented central government funding cuts have left many councils beyond the point where council tax income can be expected to plug the growing funding gaps they face. Local government faces an overall funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020.”
How to cut your bill
Those who are affected can look into ways of potentially making their bill more manageable. One option, which has been available in England since April 2013, is to spread the payments over 12 months rather than the traditional 10, thereby reducing each monthly outgoing – this can be done by applying to your local council.
There are also council tax exemptions or reductions available in some instances. Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax, so if a household is only made up of students, the bill is waived.
Adults living alone can claim a 25% discount on their council tax bill, so if an adult is living with a student or students, they are effectively classed as living alone and will only be eligible to pay 75% of the total bill.
Owners of second homes or holiday homes are also currently able to apply for up to a 50% discount, at the discretion of the local council – although this concept has hit the headlines in the Yorkshire Dales recently where a hike for second homes is being considered by the local authorities.
If the property is empty due to a death and is in the process of being sold, council tax will not apply for six months after probate, and in some cases will be exempt until the sale goes through.
There have been calls recently, including from politician Tony Blair, to consider changing council tax into a land value tax to make it more fair.