Bill payers could see their council tax rise by up to £95 a year on average, after it was revealed 95% of councils are planning on hiking the rates.
The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) has today released a survey of more than 100 councils in England showing that almost all councils will increase the tax, and 93% will do so just to make ends meet.
Local authorities can increase council tax by up to 3%, but those with social care responsibilities can add an extra 3% on top - meaning some could see their bills rise by just under 6%.
The average council tax for a band D property is currently £1,591 so this could jump by £48 a year with a 3% hike, or £95 with an up to 6% increase.
95% to raise council tax
The LGIU questioned all local authorities in England about whether they plan to increase council tax in April.
Just under a third, 113, replied and 95% of these said they planned to increase the bill. Four out of five also said they fear for their financial stability, and claim their budgets to provide adult social care, youth centres and parks and leisure facilities will be under more pressure during the next financial year.
Chief executive of the LGIU Jonathan Carr-West said: "Councils are on the edge. They are for the most part holding services together (though a significant minority are not). But they can only do this by raising council tax, increasing charging and draining their reserves."
Ways to save on your council tax
While council tax is among one of the biggest monthly outgoings for many households, there are a number of ways you may be able to cut your bill:
- Check your council tax band – Up to 400,000 households in England and Scotland could be in the wrong council tax band. See Council Tax Bands
- Pay it over 12 months rather than 10 – In April 2013 the Government announced all councils in England must allow you to pay your council tax over 12 months. If you live in England, contact your council and tell it you want to change to the 12 month payment schedule.
- Full-time student? You shouldn't be paying – If you're a full-time student living alone or with other students you don't need to pay council tax. If you're a full-time student living with a non-student, you're disregarded, so the non-student is treated as though they live alone and can claim the 25% single person's discount. If you're a full-time student living with more than one non-student, you're still exempt, but because there are two non-students the house has to pay the full 100% charge.
- Live alone? Get a 25% discount – If you live alone or are classed as the only adult in the home in England, Scotland or Wales, you may be eligible for a single person's discount, meaning a 25% reduction.
- Are you eligible for a 'severe mental impairment' discount? – If you live with someone medically certified as having a permanent condition that affects their intelligence and social functioning, eg, Alzheimer's or severe learning difficulties you could be eligible for a 25% council tax discount. See our Council tax discounts for ‘severe mental impairment’ guide for full information.
You may also be eligible for a discount for reason such as your home being empty, having a second home or receiving pension credit. See our Council Tax Bands guide for more information.