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Nearly all councils planning to raise council tax – see if you can cut yours

Nearly all councils planning to raise council tax – see if you can cut yours

Almost all English local authorities plan to increase council tax in 2019/20, according to a survey.

The survey of more than 100 councils by the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) found 97% are set to increase council tax, and three quarters plan to raise rates by more than 2.5%.

Local authorities can usually increase council tax by up to 3%, or by up to 5% for those with social care responsibilities, but would need to hold a referendum if they want to increase it by more.

The average council tax for a band D home in England is currently £1,671, so a rise of 2.5% would be equal to around £41.75.

How did the survey work?

The LGIU questioned all 353 local authorities in England about whether they plan to increase council tax in April.

Just over a third, 123, replied and 97% of these said they planned to increase the bill. Eight in 10 (80%) councils that replied said they were not confident in the sustainability of local government finance, and none said they were "very confident".

Ways to save on your council tax

While council tax is among 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 reasons such as your home being empty, having a second home or receiving pension credit. See our Council Tax Bands guide for more information.