MARTIN Lewis has revealed how households can get back thousands on their council tax bills.
The MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) founder and his team warned that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the wrong council tax band.
MSE has warned people they could be in the wrong council tax bandRex
And as bills are set to rise in April, it’ll be good to check if you’re in the wrong one – as you could save thousands of pounds.
But some authorities have been allowed to hike bills even more than this – in some cases, by as much as 15%.
Local authorities were previously only allowed to raise council tax by 2.99% – anything higher would have required a local vote.
The amount you’ll pay is determined by the local council and depends on which “band” the property you live in falls under.
Your home’s band is based on its value – the more expensive the property, the more council tax will be charged.
Some councils have already said how much they’ll raise rates.
For example, residents in Conwy will see an increase of 9.9%.
You can challenge your council tax band if you think it’s incorrect.
If it is, not only will you pay less moving forward, but you can get a refund on the over payments made since you first moved into the property
One savvy saver got back £7,800 after challenging her council tax band.
How can I challenge my council tax band?
Properties across the UK are banded from A to H which dictates how much council tax you should pay.
But the bands were created based on property values back in 1991, so many households may find that they should be on a different band today.
Luckily, you can challenge your band if you think it’s wrong and recoup any money you might have overpaid.
It’s worth noting, you might be re-banded and have to pay more council tax so think before you rush into making a challenge.
You have to submit your challenge to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) if you live in England or Wales.
You can do this on the government’s website.
Alternatively, you can call the VOA on 03000 501 501 for England or 03000 505 505 for Wales or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will need some information to hand when it comes to making your challenge.
This includes giving addresses of up to five similar properties in a lower council tax band in your immediate area.
Plus, you will have to say what type of property you live in, its size, age and style and design.
Bear in mind, the challenging process is different if you live in Scotland.
You should go to Scottish government’s website for more information.
If you make a challenge and you are in the correct council tax band, there are other ways to get reductions if you are struggling financially.
More council tax support
Council tax discounts
There are a number of discounts you could get, depending on your circumstances.
Factors such as your household income, whether you have children, and if you receive any benefits, will influence what you get.
To apply for any of the below discounts, go through the government website.
You’ll need your national insurance number, bank statements, a recent payslip or letter from the Jobcentre, and a passport or driving licence when filling out the details.
If you are not sure which local authority you live in, you can check the government’s council locator to find out.
If you live on your own, you can get 25% off your council tax bill.
This also applies if there is one adult and one student living together in a property, or if there is one adult and one person classed as severely mentally impaired in the home.
If you live with someone who doesn’t have to pay council tax, such as a carer or someone who is severely mentally impaired, you could get a larger reduction too, of up to 50%.
And, if you live in an all-student household, you could get a 100% discount.
A full list of circumstances that exempt you from paying council tax can be found on Citizens Advice.
If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you could get a 100% discount.
If not, you could still get help if you have a low income and less than £16,000 in savings.
And a pensioner who lives alone will be entitled to a 25% discount too.
If you are on a low income or receiving benefits, you could eligible for a reduction on your council tax.
Whether you are eligible will vary depending on where you live.
You could also get a deferral if you’re struggling to pay your bill, or you can speak to your council about setting up a payment plan to manage the cost.
But one thing to remember is if you are struggling you should contact your council as early as you can.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing email@example.com