Key ways to challenge the spiralling cost of council tax bills

Local authorities increase council tax bills by up to 5%, but some households can mitigate impact by challenging them or applying for discounts

Cash-strapped local authorities have just increased council tax bills for the year ahead by up to 5 per cent. But some households can mitigate the impact by challenging them or applying for discounts. 

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has been among those to criticise the increases at a time of hardship for many households – especially given that some 3,000 council workers now earn more than £100,000 a year, plus are eligible for gold plated pensions. 

John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, says: ‘Households struggling with unpopular council tax increases can explore a variety of options to cut bills that are not advertised.’ 

On the rise: Cash-strapped local authorities have just increased council tax bills for the year ahead by up to 5 per cent

The first is to challenge your property’s tax band – based on home valuations made three decades ago. If part of your home has ever been demolished or it has been split into flats it might have changed band. By dropping a band you can save £400 a year. Bands are ‘A’ to ‘H’ in England and Scotland, plus an extra ‘I’ in Wales.

Next, you should look to see if you are due a discount. If living alone or only with someone aged under 18 or still in full-time education, you may be entitled to a 25 per cent discount. If a live-in carer shares the property with you or if the house has been renovated to help with a disability, such as putting in an easy access downstairs bedroom or bathroom for wheelchair use, you might also get 25 per cent off. 

If someone has a severe mental impairment, such as Alzheimer’s, you should also claim the discount.   

If on a low income and receiving benefits, such as universal credit or pension credit, you can claim up to 100 per cent of the bill. Householders who have suffered financial hardship due to coronavirus may also be granted a ‘payment holiday’ by their local council – but bills must still be paid at some stage. 

Before making a challenge based on a disputed banding, check out the Government’s Valuation Office Agency website in England or Wales – in Scotland the Scottish Assessors Association. You should compare your property band with neighbours’ homes. 


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