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Announced earlier this year, Council Tax is on the rise. The rise is estimated to be 5% across the country, with the majority of councils in England and Wales implementing the change as soon as it’s available. Council Tax must be paid by anyone over the age of 18 who currently rents or owns a home in the UK. How much you pay is reliant on the value of your property, and how many people currently live there. This type of tax was implemented in 1993 and, depending on your circumstances, you may be exempt from paying any council tax. There are also types of properties in the UK that are automatically exempt from council tax charges. It’s thought that the money generated by council tax adds up to roughly 25% of Government Revenue.
Depending on where you live in the UK, your house will fall into a certain “band” of council tax. It is important to know which band your home falls under, as you do not want to be paying more council tax than you need to be. You can check the tax band prices, and to check the band in which your home falls into on the dedicated government website. You can also “challenge” you band online. This means that you can challenge how much your current council tax is worth. A member of your local council will then check your band, and your band may be changed if it turns out you have been placed in the wrong band.
If you think you will struggle if your council tax is raised this year, we have some tricks and tips below to help you save those extra pennies.
Single Person’s Discount
If you are living alone, check to see if you are eligible for the 25% single person’s discount. If you live with a student, someone who is mentally impaired, or someone who is unable to work, you could also be entitled to the discount. If you are unsure on if you could be eligible, you can check on the Council Tax website. Alternatively, ring the Council Tax helpline. Someone from the Council Tax office will aim to help you figure out whether or not you are eligible for the discount.
Check your current Tax Band
It is estimated that up to half a million houses in England and Wales have been placed in the wrong council tax band. These houses could have been overpaying their council tax for a number of years and could even be owed money by the UK government. This is because of the valuation methods in 1991. Evaluators would simply drive back houses and “guess” their band based on a checklist. With inflation and better measures for house banding, house bands will have dramatically changed since they were first implemented.
This is why, even if you are sure on the band of your house, you should check which band your house falls into. This is for peace of mind and to save your hard earned money.
If you have checked your band place, and have found that you have been incorrectly banded, you can receive a reduction immediately. You can also receive a back payment of the money you have overpaid since you moved into the house or residence. If you would like to find a way of checking your band without having to contact the government, a sure way to find out is to ask your neighbours for their current council tax payments. You can also trace back and find out how much your house was worth in 1991. This is when banding was defined in terms of Council Tax. If you are positive that your band has changed or should be changed, then it is definitely getting in touch with a representative about changing your current band.
Other hikes in price
It’s not only Council Tax that is changing in the UK. Water bills are due to rise by 4%, which means an extra £12 per year for the average household. This can be annoying and it cannot be changed. However, there are ways to save water by being practical about water use and cutting down your shower times. Installing a free water meter is also a great way to monitor water use and cut down on your spending.
Water meters are used instead of paying a fixed water price. You can currently use the free Water Calculator by the Consumer Council to check if you could save by installing a meter in your home. If you already have a water meter installed, you can cut your use and spend further by requesting freebies from your water company. You can order freebies by visiting your supplier’s website and searching for water saving techniques.
As well as Water and Council Tax, prescriptions in the UK are up by 20p. This will mean that every prescription you purchase will cost £8.60. Not to mention if you have multiple prescriptions on repeat. Money for the service can soon rack up and cost a fortune. However, if you sign up for a prepayment certificate with the NHS, you will only pay £10 per month. This will mean that your prescriptions will be paid, for in advance, or over the course of a year through direct debits. This pre payment plan is great if you get a lot of prescriptions over the course of a month, or you have a rolling prescription which you need to collect weekky.
You can purchase a prepay certificate from the NHS on the NHS website. You will need to provide a name, address, and a valid debit or credit card. Once you have signed up for the service, you will recieve your NHS prepay card in the post. From here, when collecting your prescriptions, all you will need to do is show your card to the pharmacist. You will not need to pay anything towards your prescription, and over time you will end up saving more money.