COUNCIL tax bills could rise next year along with national insurance to help cover the cost of social care.
It could add another £250 to household bills, but many people are missing out on savings that could cover the cost of the rise – and potentially more.
A rise in National Insurance contributions was announced by the government this week that will see workers pay up to £13.75 a week more from next April.
But that's still not enough to cover social care costs, and raising more money from council tax is expected to plug the gap, according to Labour.
Analysis shows that an average Band D home would have a total of £261 of council tax added over the next three years, with the annual bill rising to £2,159 by 2024/5.
Thousands of households saw their council tax bill jump by up to 5% in April this year.
Council tax bills usually rise each year in April when the new tax year starts.
Local councils have the power to increase rates by varying amounts, so the exact amount bills rise by depends on where you live.
Here we round up all the ways you can save NOW on council tax which could add up to thousands of pounds.
Council tax is a priority bill, meaning if you fall behind you can be asked to pay it all at once.
Non-payment can also result in bailiffs visiting your home, court action or even imprisonment.
If you're struggling to pay the get in touch with the council as soon as possible and you can also find help from charities like Citizens Advice.
Brits struggling can also get council tax debt written off using a little known rule.
Apply for a council tax reduction
Many people paying council tax may not be aware that they can get their bill reduced.
Reductions are available for those on low-incomes, people claiming certain benefits, those caring for others as well as other circumstances.
The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.
The exact amount can depend on:
- Where you live
- Your circumstances (eg income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
- Your household income – this includes savings, pensions and your partner’s income
- If your children live with you
- If other adults live with you
As each council offers different support, you'll need to contact your local authority for more information and apply through them directly.
Get a council tax discount
There are other specific circumstances where you can get a discount on your bill.
Carers and those with a disability could get their bill cut by between 25% and 50%.
Apprentices, those with severe mental impairments and those living in a care home or staying in hospital could also be eligible for a discount.
Students get a full exemption from the bill, meaning they pay nothing at all – but everyone in the household must be a student and be studying full-time.
Anyone living alone can get a 25% discount, or if they live with others who don't count towards paying council tax, like a student, carer or apprentice.
Owners of empty properties may also be eligible for a discount, depending on the length of time, but some councils may charge MORE if the house has not been occupied for a long period.
Contact your local council to check what support you can claim and apply.
You can check the help you could get with council tax bills an other support using a benefits calculator.
Get your council tax band changed
Thousands of people managed to slash their bills last financial year by getting their council tax band reduced.
If you challenge your band successfully, you could get a refund worth several thousands of pounds not to mention hundreds knocked off your annual bill.
Experts estimate that up to 400,000 properties are still in the wrong band – meaning loads of people are probably paying more than they need to.
If you challenged your band with the council you might not be successful, and you could actually end up paying more if they think you should be in a higher paying band.
So be aware of the risks before trying this, though figures suggest this happened to just 0.01% of people who made a challenge which works out as 40 households last year.
Another potential risk of challenging is that you could affect your neighbours, moving them to a higher rate too.
Your first step to making a challenge is checking what your neighbours are paying and the valuation of similar properties in your area.
MoneySavingExpert has a free calculator tool to help you do this, as well as a table on what band you should have been put in.
If these indicate you are in the wrong band you can then make a challenge through the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
For more on how to challenge your council tax band you can read our handy guide.
One Martin Lewis fan recovered £6,125 in refunds, no council tax for a year and a saving of £350 annually from then onwards
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