This April, 95% of councils are likely to increase council tax bills – but there are ways you can get ready for any extra on your bill, and possibly pay less.
To fund care for the elderly, councils have been given the power to add an extra 2% to the annual council tax bill. The Local Government Association (LGA) says 143 of the 152 social care authorities – those responsible for caring for the vulnerable and elderly – had either already approved this, or were looking into doing so. On average, this could see an extra £24 added to the annual cost of a Band D home.
On top of this, local councils can choose to raise what they charge by another 1.99%, and the LGA reports many are likely to implement this increase too.
Council tax: What it is and how much it costs
If your finances are tight, any extra cost can make a big difference, so it’s worth thinking now about how you could cover an increase.
Yet even if you think you’ll be able to pay the extra, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check for ways you can pay less.
Are you able to get a discount?
Not everyone has to pay the full rate of council tax. Anyone living on their own, or who is the only adult in a household, can get a 25% reduction. If you’re a student you don’t have to pay at all, no matter how many of you are in the house.
There are also discounts available for some people on a low income or if they have a disability, however any savings you have can affect if you’re eligible.
Could you be paying too much?
Council tax charges were decided in the 1990s, and it’s estimated there are 400,000 homes in England and Scotland in the wrong bands.
You might be able to get a refund if your home is one of these, but there’s also the chance it could go up if you ask for a review. You can check your council tax band by visiting <a href="https://www.gov Click This Link.uk/council-tax-bands”>https://www.gov.uk/council-tax-bands
Most households pay their council tax over the default 10 months. That means every February and March there’s no payment to make, and therefore some extra cash in your account.
This “holiday” from council tax is a good opportunity to either put some aside to cover the increased bill from April onwards, and perhaps start saving for other unexpected costs that come your way.
Of course, you might find it easier to budget if you’re paying over 12 months rather than 10, and you can contact your council and get the repayments changed.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.