Households up and down the country will have by now received notice of changes to their council tax bill for 2021/22.
Millions of residents in England and Wales are set to see a rise in their council tax contributions for the upcoming 12 months, while Scotland councils have frozen rates.
Every local authority in England has increased its rates for 2021/22, according to statistics published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The average Band D council tax bill has increased by 4.4% in England - meaning the overall bill for the year will rise by £81 to £1,898 for millions of residents.
Here we take a look at how the council tax bands are calculated, what it’s spent on and how households can challenge what they are paying…
What is council tax spent on?
Councils raise money for community services by claiming taxes based on variable rates from people living within the local authority’s area.
The money goes towards funding such services as police and fire services, recycling centres, maintenance of parks and streets, and care for elderly and vulnerable people.
The needs of the community usually dictates how much each council requires from its residents to run these services, meaning tax bills can vary depending on where you live.
Each council is responsible for setting its own levels of tax but central government can limit how much authorities can increase, with chancellor Rishi Sunak capping rises at 4.99% in 2021/22.
How are council tax bands calculated?
How much council tax residents pay is determined by the value of their property.
In England, the value of a property - which typically depends on its size, layout, finish, and location - dictates how much council tax the residents living in it will pay.
Properties are then placed into one of eight bands (A-H), with H being the highest valued, which are dependent on the price the property would have sold for in April 1991.
Council tax band in England and ranges of value
A - Up to £40,000
B - More than £40,000 and up to £52,000
C - More than £52,000 and up to £68,000
D - More than £68,000 and up to £88,000
E - More than £88,000 and up to £120,000
F - More than £120,000 and up to £160,000
G - More than £160,000 and up to £320,000
H - More than £320,000
Bands are calculated differently in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Can I challenge how much council tax I’m paying?
There are ways to reduce how much you pay in council tax.
People living alone in a property qualify for a 25% reduction on their overall council tax bill.
Other groups who can apply for discounts to the overall council tax bill include apprentices, student nurses, and carers (50%) and members of the armed forces (100%).
Discounts are not always automatically applied and may need to be registered with councils.
Other factors such as a drop in household income could also lead to a reduction in tax paid.
There is also a way to check what council tax band your property falls under, and if this still applies, by requesting a new valuation if you believe there are grounds for appeal.
This typically comes if there have been changes to the property since it was built.
If revalued there is the chance the property could be moved to a lower band, meaning a reduction in your overall council tax bill, or moved up a band, which would be more expensive.