Inflation-busting council tax rises costing taxpayers at least £55 million in unnecessary rates rises

Embargoed: 00:01 Thursday 7 May 2020


On the day that many voters should have been going to the polls for local elections, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) has compiled council tax data into an interactive heat map to highlight the severity of rate rises. Nearly every council in Great Britain increased council tax last month, despite immense economic hardship imposed on residents by the coronavirus crisis.

District councils, which make up nearly half of all English councils and largely do not have responsibility for social care, still raised council tax by an average of 3.3 per cent. Had the rise been the same rate as inflation at 1.5 per cent, taxpayers would have saved £55 million in tax hikes this year.

The south west of England is seeing uniform rises averaging 4.2 per cent, while the 'red wall' constituencies in the midlands and north are suffering council tax increases that are higher than in surrounding areas. Only three of the councils featured froze their rates this year.

Any increase in council tax, even in good times, has a huge impact on households. The TPA council tax heat map is a vital tool for taxpayers to hold councils to account and judge which authorities are delivering the best value for money.

Click here for a more detailed analysis and to view the heat map.


Key findings 
(figures quoted are band D average unless otherwise stated)

  • The council tax heat map covers district, unitary and metropolitan councils across England, Scotland and Wales.
     
  • Not a single council in Britain cut council tax this year, with the average band D bill in England now reaching £1,817, in Scotland, £1,301 and Wales, £1,696
     
  • District councils, which make up nearly half of all English councils and largely do not have responsibility for social care, still raised council tax by an average of 3.3 per cent. Had the rise been the same rate as inflation at 1.5 per cent, taxpayers would have saved £55 million this year.

Type of council

Average increase (%)

Responsibility for adult social care?

County

3.9

Yes

District

3.3

No

Metropolitan

3.8

Yes

Unitary

3.9

Yes

London

3.9

Yes


England

  • Basildon, Corby and Chorley were the only local authorities to freeze council tax this year.
     
  • Mendip council’s 8.3 per cent rise was the highest, at more than 5 times the rate of inflation.
     
  • Northumberland council took the crown of the highest council tax bill in England at £1,848.39.
     
  • Westminster was the country’s lowest at £449.92


Scotland

  • 20 Scottish councils broke a pledge of no rises over 3 per cent, with only 4 honouring the commitment.
     
  • Midlothian had the highest council tax bill in Scotland at £1,409.
     
  • The lowest was in the Western Isles at £1,194.


Wales

  • Of the 17 British councils imposing the highest cash terms increases on residents, 16 of them are in Wales.
     
  • In cash and percentage terms, Newport topped the list with a 6.9 per cent council tax increase at £96.20.
     
  • The highest council tax billed was £2,009 set by Blaenau Gwent.
     
  • The lowest was in Pembrokeshire at £1,445.

 

Click here for a more detailed analysis and to view the heat map.



Commenting on the findings Jeremy Hutton, policy analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:


"Taxpayers across Britain are being battered by inflation-busting rate rises, with millions of pounds being collected over and above what would be normally expected from residents."

"While councils have been quick to reference social care pressures to explain rising bills, many authorities with no social care responsibilities are still ratcheting up rates and subjecting struggling households to punishing charges during this pandemic. 

"Local authority bosses need to get their own houses in order and start rooting out wasteful spending, in order to save taxpayers' cash and follow the example of some councils by putting an end to these inflation-busting tax hikes."

 

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

Media contact:

Harry Fone
Grassroots Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
harry.fone@taxpayersalliance.com
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at www.taxpayersalliance.com.
     
  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.
     
  3. The TaxPayers' Alliance recently released the thirteenth edition of Town Hall Rich List. The only comprehensive list of its kind with a council-by-council breakdown of local government executive pay deals.
     
  4. As the country continues to battle the coronavirus crisis, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has called for council tax to be frozen and local authority spending to be focused on frontline services. You can read our full statement here.
     
  5. Between 1997 and 2017 council tax in England increased by 57 per cent in real terms.
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