Councils across the country are settling their budgets for next year. Many will have to reduce spending, after the Chancellor's Autumn Statement announced a real terms reduction in grants to local authorities. Some councils have already said that they are considering Council Tax hikes, but more should be done to bring spending down, sell assets or use reserves.
New research from the TaxPayers' Alliance today reveals that Council Tax has been an increasing burden on families for decades. Between 1996-97 and 2010-11, 152 local authorities increased Council Tax every single year.
The key findings of this research are:
- In 1996-7, the average band D Council Tax bill in England was £646. Today the figure is £1,484, a real terms increase of 58 per cent
- In real terms, the average band D Council Tax bill increased by 71.8 per cent between 1996-97 and 2010-11, and has fallen by 8 per cent between 2010-11 and 2015-16, after the grant to freeze or cut Council Tax was introduced
- Residents in Weymouth & Portland Borough Council pay the highest Council Tax in the UK - £1,756.44
- Residents in Westminster City Council pay the lowest Council Tax in the UK - £674.16
- The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead has cut Council Tax the most since 2010-11 - £88.78
- Nottingham City Council has increased Council Tax the most since 2010-11 - £127.39
- Between 1997-98 and 2010-11, there were a total of 4,471 individual Council Tax increases, but only 149 cuts and 161 freezes
- Since 2010-11, there have been a total of 406 individual Council Tax increases, 203 cuts and 1,161 freezes
- In real terms, residents of six councils have lower Council Tax bills today than they did in 1996-97 (excluding precepts):
- London Borough of Southwark (2.2 per cent lower)
- Harlow District Council (8 per cent lower)
- London Borough of Hackney (10.3 per cent lower)
- London Borough of Islington (11.7 per cent lower)
- London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (21.3 per cent lower)
- London Borough of Wandsworth (22.6 per cent lower)
- Since 2010-11, 45 councils have not increased Council Tax with 17 of them cutting Council Tax at least once
- When all precepts are included, in real terms, only residents of Hammersmith & Fulham pay less Council Tax today than they did in 1996-97 – 2.9 per cent less
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"Council Tax is a huge burden on hard-pressed families and rates have continued to climb for decades as local authorities massively overspent. The coalition government introduced grants to freeze Council Tax which helped to ease the pressure on taxpayers, but bills at many local authorities remain eye-wateringly high. Now we are facing tougher times so local authorities must live within taxpayers' means by bringing down spending, selling assets or using reserves, not by hiking Council Tax."
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