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Council tax bills set to skyrocket across the country

Council tax bills are set to skyrocket in the vast majority of local authorities, as a 2% cap is lifted for the first time since 2012.

A February survey of local authorities found that 95% planned to increase council tax and 93% would hike service fees.

The 2018 State of Local Government Finance research also found that 80% of councils fear for their balance sheets.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finances and Accountancy calculated that English households will pay an extra £81 in council tax from April – the steepest increases for 14 years.

Local authorities can increase council tax by 2.99% this year without triggering a referendum.

Large councils that have a responsibility for social care can add an additional 3% levy, leading to increases of up to 5.99%.

The Local Government Association (LGA) claims that 147 of the 152 English authorities that provide social care would add the 3% levy from April.

Of the 152 social care councils, 108 also plan to increase general council tax by between 2.95% and 2.99%.

But the LGA also warned that council tax rises would not stop cuts to local services. They suggested that even the maximum increase is not enough to cover rising costs, particular costs associated with child and adult care services.

Lord Porter, the Conservative chair of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Extra council-tax-raising powers will helpfully give some councils the option to raise some extra income, but will not bring in enough to completely ease the financial pressure they face.

“This means many councils face having to ask residents to pay more council tax while offering fewer services as a result.”

Councils have been hit by rising cost pressures in recent years, at the same time as they have seen central government funding cut.

Northamptonshire County Council effectively declared itself bankrupt earlier this month after admitting that rising costs and shrinking income made it unable to set a legal budget.

How to deal with council tax debts

Your local council will normally send out payment orders in March and most residents will be asked to pay in 10 or 12 instalments from April.

You may be able to alter these payment terms if you speak to your council. Some councils will allow you to pay weekly or fortnightly.

If council tax debts are beginning to pile up and you want to avoid a court summons or bailiff action, speak to a member of our team.

We may be able to arrange a council tax repayment plan with your local authority. If you are struggling with more serious debts, then we can provide a more comprehensive debt management solution tailored to your needs.

Speak to a member of our debt advice team today. Call: 0800 611 8888.