MSE Exclusive: Households in Great Britain due £150 million in council tax refunds – check NOW to see if you're one of the 862,000 due a payout
Households are being urged to check NOW if they are one of the 862,000 due a refund of overpaid council tax, with an investigation by MoneySavingExpert.com showing residents in England, Scotland and Wales could claim back a total of just over £150 million.
Below we explain:
- Why you may be owed a refund.
- How to check if you're owed a refund.
- The best way to prevent overpayments in future.
- And how much in refunds your council owes in total, which is based on a freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by MSE to all 364 local authorities across Great Britain (you don't pay council tax in Northern Ireland).
There are a number of reasons why households may be owed cash from their council, but the main one is when a householder has moved out of the area but had already paid the bill upfront.
In most cases, council tax is usually paid in advance (including for those who pay monthly) and, if you fail to close your account or you don't pay by direct debit, the council may struggle to refund you automatically if you've moved. This means many accounts are closed in credit.
Other reasons why someone may be due a council tax refund are detailed in MSE's Reclaim overpaid council tax guide.
Setting up a direct debit with your local authority is one of the easiest ways to help reduce the likelihood of overpaying your council tax.
Paying by direct debit also makes it easier to reclaim refunds if they are owed. This is because your council will have your bank account details on its system – making it easier for your local authority to automatically process refunds for overpayments.
But be sure to cancel your direct debit and close your account if you're moving to an area covered by a different council.
The best way to check if you're due cash – and to reclaim it if you are – will depend on your council. You can call, email or live chat with your council to ask if you're due a refund. You can find your council's contact details on the Gov.uk website.
Some councils may offer a simple online council tax refund form to complete – though you'll be asked to provide eligibility evidence for any backdated claims.
For other ways to save, including available council tax discounts and how to lower your tax band – visit MSE's guides on council tax and Government grants.
Around £150 million is owed to council taxpayers across Great Britain
Thirty eight councils each owe more than £1 million in refunds
Thirty four councils in England, three in Scotland and one in Wales each hold council tax overpayments worth over £1 million, our FOI revealed, with Birmingham City Council owing the most: almost £5.4 million.
Gareth Shaw, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "While many councils do make an effort to track down those who have cash lying unclaimed, they are still staggeringly sitting on £150 million worth of overpayments.
"You're less likely to have overpaid if you use direct debit, but it's not impossible, so if you've moved home it's worth checking if you might be due – especially if you changed local authority area and paid by cash, cheque or standing order instead. Each council has its own way of processing claims, but some have an easy online form.
"But don't just call on the off chance you might be due – do a little bit of digging so you don't clog up councils' switchboards for those who need essential and urgent support. Check your previous statements and bills to see if council tax you paid upfront covers a period after you moved and if you closed your account in credit."
The dropdowns below detail the total value of refunds due to households in each council in England, Scotland and Wales based on the latest data available at the time of asking.
Our FOI was submitted towards the end of 2021, with the last set of figures obtained from councils in February 2022. Most councils have provided the value of refunds owed at the end of 2020/21 financial year (the most recent info available at the time of asking) – these have been marked in the tables below with a '2020' date.
Where councils track their data on refunds on a monthly rolling basis, we've marked these with a '2021' date in the tables below, though they're based on the balance at the time of asking.
Four councils refused to disclose the requested data, citing a risk of increased fraudulent behaviour if they were to do so. These were the London Borough of Islington, the London Borough of Southwark, Durham County Council and South Lakeland District Council. A further 15 councils failed to respond or disclose any of the data requested following repeated requests from MSE.
Here is the list for English councils
Here is the list for Scottish councils
Aberdeen City Council (2020) £202,284.24 980 Aberdeenshire Council (2020) £68,667.33 565 Angus Council (2020) £233,235.27 2,000 Argyll and Bute Council (2020) £231,186.67 2,610 City of Edinburgh Council (2020) £1,327,890.23 4,841 Clackmannanshire Council Failed to declare any data Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles) (2021) £74,047.56 656 Dumfries & Galloway Council (2020) £64,142.79 509 Dundee City Council (2020) £4,268.19 84 East Ayrshire Council (2020) £46,296.60 857 East Dunbartonshire Council (2021) £195,198.86 1,474 East Lothian Council (2020) £161,974.20 1,277 East Renfrewshire Council (2021) £173,617.47 791 Falkirk Council (2020) £54,685.75 613 Fife Council (2020) £1,263,715.46 7,701 Glasgow City Council (2020) £2,410,688.00 15,039 Inverclyde Council (2020) £523,009.58 5,316 Midlothian Council (2020) £156,797.11 1,311 North Ayrshire Council (2020) £134,620.40 1,046 North Lanarkshire Council (2020) £697,925.87 9,445 Orkney Islands Council Failed to declare any data Perth & Kinross Council (2020) £332,479.02 1,635 Renfrewshire Council (2020) £464,751.48 5,775 Scottish Borders Council (2020) £58,941.85 347 Shetland Islands Council (2021) £931,613.08 534 South Ayrshire Council (2021) £198,192.24 1,401 South Lanarkshire Council (2020) £259,739.00 2,680 Stirling Council (2020) £29,607.52 467 The Highland Council (2020) £58,655.35 584 The Moray Council (2020) £44,912.34 281 West Dunbartonshire Council (2021) £750,853.91 10,332 West Lothian Council (2020) £50,121.72 328
Here is the list for Welsh councils
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (2020) £91,243.94 1,248 Bridgend County Borough Council (2020) £191,821.65 2,033 Caerphilly County Borough Council (2020) £102,069.21 949 Carmarthenshire County Council (2020) £382,070.64 2,990 Ceredigion County Council (2020) £56,238.56 428 City and County of Swansea (2021) £586,500.00 5,512 City of Cardiff Council (2020) £1,000,149.51 5,000 Conwy County Borough Council (2020) £49,151.34 299 Denbighshire County Council (2020) £120,412.82 586 Flintshire County Council (2020) £71,135.52 383 Gwynedd County Council (2020) £168,115.38 834 Isle of Anglesey County Council (2020) £815,397.93 Failed to declare any data Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (2020) £381,447.93 4,037 Monmouthshire County Council (2021) £271,132.81 1,250 Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (2021) £111,692.03 560 Newport City Council (2020) £166,222.85 1,350 Pembrokeshire County Council (2020) £159,958.73 1,159 Powys County Council (2020) £107,905.60 940 Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (2020) £582,681.19 3,760 Torfaen County Borough Council (2020) £78,911.18 1,140 Vale of Glamorgan Council (2021) £357,715.22 2,110 Wrexham County Borough Council (2020) £275,181.00 1,125