1 Mar 2012

Most local authorities freeze council tax bills

More than four out of five local authorities are freezing council tax bills in April – but many people will still pay more because of charges levied by other bodies.

More than four out of five local authorities are freezing council tax bills in April, but many people will still pay more (Getty)

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) says 85 per cent of councils in England are not increasing their portion of bills, which is what the government has requested.

But because bills also include charges levied by other bodies, like fire and police authorities, 43 per cent of households will see a small increase.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has made it clear that it expects councils to freeze their bills this year and has offered them funding to do so.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has said councils have a “moral duty” to freeze their bills. CIPFA’s survey shows most are doing this, but some authorities are not.


Of those deciding to increase bills, none is doing so by more than 4 per cent. An increase above this level would give council tax payers the right to call for a local referendum.

Across England, the average band D council tax bill will rise by 0.3 per cent (£4.39) to £1,443.79, compared with last year’s decrease of 35p.

The largest average increase for a band D council tax bill is in the north east, where it will rise by 0.9 per cent (£13.43). Greater London will see a decrease of 0.3 per cent (£4.19). In Wales, bills will rise by 2.2 per cent (£25.70), to £1,187.66.

Increased bills

Councils increasing their charges include Conservative-controlled Peterborough, Chelmsford, Surrey, Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire.

Labour-controlled Brighton and Hove, Darlington, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent and Nottingham are also raising bills.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said the government was “working to freeze council tax for two years, helping hard-working families and pensioners with their cost of living”.

He added: “This survey confirms that council tax will be frozen again this year for most households, with an average change across England of just a mere 0.3 per cent, which is a significant tax cut in real terms.”

The average council tax bill includes charges from the billing authority, county councils, the Greater London Authority, police and fire authorities and parish and community councils.