MILLIONS of households look set to be hit with average council tax bills of over £2,000 from April, new analysis has found.
Local authorities have been told they can hike bills by up to 5% this year.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the news in his Autumn Budget last November.
Previously local authorities were only allowed to raise council tax by 2.99%.
The announcement from the government could see 255 districts charging more than £2,000 a year on average to families in Band D homes, according to new analysis by The Telegraph and TaxPayers' Alliance.
There are currently just over four million Band D council tax properties in England and Wales.
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So millions could see their council tax bills go from an average of £1,966 a year to over £2,000.
Of course, local authorities don't have to increase their council tax charges by the maximum rate.
But, it is expected the vast majority will to keep pace with soaring inflation which stood at 10.7% in November.
Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “Councils should be cutting down their own spending before forcing residents to cut down on theirs.”
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How much households will pay extra from April will differ based on where you live as local authorities charge different council tax amounts.
For example, Rutland County Council currently charges just over £2,249 for Band D households.
But with a 5% rise, households could be paying over £166 more a year – £2,415 in total.
A spokesperson for Rutland County Council told The Telegraph the current government funding formula for local authorities "compounds historic inequalities" in how councils are funded and it "continuously" lobbies the government for funding reform.
Meanwhile, James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said councils had no choice but to put up bills.
He added: "Many councils face significant challenges when setting their budgets and trying to protect services from cutbacks.
“This leaves them facing the tough choice about whether to increase council tax bills to bring in desperately-needed funding at a time when they are acutely aware of the significant burden that could place on some households during a cost of living crisis."
What help can I get with council tax bills?
If you live in a Band D property and are worried about rising council tax bills, there are some scenarios where you might be able to get a reduction.
If you have a low household income, are responsible for children or you receive benefits, for example.
You can apply for a discount on the government's website.
You'll need a few things to hand, including:
- your National Insurance number
- bank statements
- a recent payslip or letter from the Jobcentre
- a passport or driving licence
If you are not sure what local authority you fall under, you can use the government's locator tool.
Single people can get 25% off their council tax bill, and if you live with a carer or someone who is severely mentally impaired, you could get a reduction up to 50%.
If you live in an all-student household you could get your council tax wiped completely.
Pensioners can get a 100% discount if they receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.
If not, you can still get help if you have a low income and less than £16,000 in savings.
A pensioner living alone is entitled to a 25% discount too.
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Plus, households on a low income or receiving benefits can get a reduction but eligibility varies depending on where you live.
A full list of circumstances that exempt you from paying council tax can be found on Citizens Advice's website.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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