Councils in England impose new 'stealth taxes' on residents by raising fees

  • A new report by the TaxPayers' Alliance shows that residents in England now pay more for services such as waste collection, airports and bridge tolls.
  • Waste collection fees have risen by 37 per cent and those for airports, harbours and tolls have increased by 109 per cent between 2010 and 2016.

Click here to read the full report

New research by the TaxPayers' Alliance reveals that councils in England have resorted to imposing stealth taxes on residents by charging more for services such as waste collection and bridge tolls - even in instances where services have been reduced.

In an analysis of more than 22 services, the TPA has found that some saw a reduction in fees. However, in some of the most visible services charges and fees have rocketed. 

Fees and charges as a proportion of total service expenditure have risen from 8.7 per cent to 9.6 per cent. Sales, fees and charges that have increased for residents include housing, environmental and regulatory services and planning. This includes services such as bin collections and planning applications.

Although there has been an increase in the number of people, cars and businesses across England during this period, sales, fees and charges in many spending areas have gone up in real terms on a per resident basis.

Specific council services which saw fee rises between 2010 and 2016 included:

  • Waste collection. In spite of many councils curtailing the number of bin collection days, fees and charges to individuals were 37 per cent higher, such as for garden waste and special collections.
  • Cemetery, cremation and mortuary services. The number of deaths rose by 6.5 per cent in England over the six year period. Sales, fees and charges, however increased by 19.8 per cent, to £291 million in 2015-16.
  • Airports, harbours and toll facilities. Many local authorities own transport assets. Newcastle Airport, for instance, is majority owned by seven local authorities in the North East. There has been a real terms increase of 109 per cent in fees between 2010 and 2016.
  • Trade waste. This is any physical waste generated by a business or tradesman within a local authority area. In real terms, the costs of waste disposal to businesses across England increased 12 per cent up to 2015-16 to £183.7 million in today’s prices. 

Commenting on the findings of this report, TaxPayers' Alliance Chief Executive John O'Connell said:

"These are considerable rate rises which will hit residents in England hard. In many instances people are being asked to pay more for services that have actually been reduced, such as fortnightly bin collections. 

Councils should ensure that they cut out all wasteful spending before asking taxpayers to pay big fees on top of their Council Tax bill."


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

Media contacts

Chloe Westley
Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Notes to editors

1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at
2. Focusing on individual local authorities’ changes to sales, fees and charges was not part of this research note. Large rises in fees for some local authorities, and steep declines for others, can also be attributed to the joint delivery of council services with one or more councils, leading to large declines or rises for specific authorities in such arrangements. Large increases can also be ascribed to the introduction of new services between 2010 and 2016, but which cannot be discerned from the Department for Communities and Local Government data.

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