With finances already stretched to the limits due to rising living costs and energy bills, council tax hikes announced in the recent Budget could deal yet another blow to households. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has predicted the tax could rise by up to £220 ($296) in the next few years if more central funding isn’t given to councils.
With the average bill for a property in band D already at £1,898, higher bills could take an even bigger chunk out of budgets. With this in mind, it’s well worth seeing if there are ways you can save.
We take a look at how you can check if you’re overpaying, plus other tips to help you bring costs down.
1. Challenge your band
A good way to lower council tax costs is by checking if your home is in the right band, and challenging this if you think it’s not. Anyone who is located in the wrong band could be unwittingly paying up to 20% extra each year, according to personal finance site, Money.co.uk.
James Andrews from Money.co.uk, said: “The first step in bringing down your council tax payments is checking your tax band on the Government website. If you think your band is wrong, you can make an appeal.”
To check your band, head here. If you’re in the wrong band, you may be able to reclaim hundreds of pounds.
But take care to do your research first, as you could see council tax rise as well as fall.
2. Get a discount for living alone
If you are the only adult living in your property, you should be able to claim a discount of 25%.
Nick Drewe, money-saving expert at online discounts platform, WeThrift, said: “Living alone allows you to take advantage of a 25% discount on your bill, saving you hundreds of pounds a year. This will make a particular difference when prices go up.”
Based on the average council tax bill of £1,898 for a Band D property, you’ll save £475 with the single person discount, so it’s worth speaking to your local authority.
3. Students shouldn’t pay a penny
Full-time students should not have to pay council tax.
Alastair Douglas from credit scoring specialist, TotallyMoney.com, said: “In households where everyone’s a full-time student, you don’t have to pay. If you get a bill, apply for an exemption.”
You can do that here.
To count as a full-time student, your course must last for a minimum of one year, and involve at least 21 hours of study per week.
4. Save if you’re in receipt of benefits
If you are on a low income or are currently receiving benefits, including Universal Credit, you may be entitled to a discount on your council tax bill.
The amount by which you can reduce your bill will depend on where you live, as each council runs their own reduction scheme. It also depends on your individual situation, including your income, how many children you have, and the benefits you’re claiming.
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5. Claim a discount as a carer
If you are a carer, or live with someone who is a carer, you may be able to claim a discount. The same is true if you have a health condition or disability, or live with someone who has.
In addition, individuals diagnosed with a serious mental health condition are also entitled to a discount.
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