Council tax in England has increased by 57 per cent in real terms in 20 years

New research from the TaxPayers’ Alliance shows that council tax has increased by 57 per cent in real terms over the past twenty years, and that there have been 15 increases for every cut.

This research tracks whether council tax was raised, frozen or cut over the past two decades, with full local data for every council.

The research also finds:
  • Seven years on from the council tax freeze scheme in 2010, the number of councils increasing council tax has returned to pre-scheme levels, jumping from 0 in 2011-12 to 124 in 2013-14 to 331 in 2017-18. The average number of increases for the years 1997-98 to 2010-11 was 319.
  • Only six councils cut council tax, and just 17 froze it, out of a total of 354 local authorities in 2017-2018.
  • In 1997-98, the average band D council tax bill in England was £688. Today the figure is £1,591, a real terms increase of 57 per cent.
  • Weymouth & Portland Borough Council has the highest band D council tax in England - £1,891.
  • Westminster City Council has the lowest band D council tax in England - £688.
  • Per dwelling, residents in Chiltern District Council pay on average the most council tax - £1,905.95.
  • Per dwelling, residents in Wandsworth Borough Council pay on average the least council tax - £644.50.
Number of council tax increases, freezes and cuts in 2010
  2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Total increases 0 35 124 119 128 306 331
Total cuts 42 47 48 37 29 8 6
Total freezes 312 272 182 198 197 40 17
Total 354 354 354 354 354 354 354
% increases 0.00 9.89 35.03 33.62 36.16 86.44 93.50

Commenting on the research, John O’Connell, Chief Executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Councils have been raising tax year in, year out for decades, but continue to demand even more. Councillors should remember that council tax is a major burden on residents and a huge contributor to the cost of living. Councils should look to reduce spending before hitting taxpayers with yet another round of painful tax hikes.”
The government announced at the end of last year that it would allow councils to raise council tax by 3 per cent, up from 2 per cent, a year without triggering a local referendum. Including precepts (for social care, police and fire services), taxpayers may see a 5.99 per cent increase in a single year, up from 4.99 per cent.

Surrey County Council threatened a referendum on a 15 per cent increase in 2017. However, only Bedfordshire has previously held one, in 2015. It was defeated 69.5 per cent to 30.5 per cent after Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner tried and failed to get a 15.8 per cent increase.

At the start of 2018, former shadow minister Chris Williamson suggested a further 20 per cent increase in council tax on band D properties, with a 100 per cent increase on the highest band H properties.

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)
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