The Communities Secretary hailed new rules for 2013 that mean taxpayers can now choose to pay their bill over 12 months rather than 10.
The move will lower average band D council tax instalments by an average of £24 per month for 10 months and helps tax payers manage their finances.
Legislation passed by the government means that in 2013 council tax payers can now request to pay their bills over a longer period of time, lowering their monthly bills, and so easing the financial burden.
The government has already announced support for local authorities in England to help them freeze council tax in 2014-15 for a third year and assist in keeping bills down. The government has set aside £450 million as part of the Autumn Statement package to help support local authorities. Taxpayers living in an average band D home in England could save up to £72 compared to a 5% increase, while the cumulative effect of the 3 freezes is potentially worth over £200 to band D residents
Councils will also be able to publish online the detailed supporting information that until now they have had to supply with council tax bills in hard copies. While residents still have the legal right to request hard-copy documents, the online versions will enable authorities to cut costs, improve efficiencies and help the environment through a decrease in the use of paper.
Ministers are also urging councils to follow the example of utility companies in offering discounts to those customers who pay online or through direct debit facilities.
Eric Pickles said:
“We know many people are worried about their cost of living expenses and we’ve already acted to freeze council tax in the past 2 years after bills doubled under the last administration. We have now offered councils a third freeze deal, which could have a combined effect potentially worth over £200 to band D residents.
“We have also changed the rules so hard working council residents can choose to pay their annual bills online or spread their payments over 12 months instead of 10. These sensible measures will make paying easier giving tax payers a little more room for manoeuvre and bring down their monthly outgoings by around £24 for most of the year.”
Billing authorities collect and enforce council tax as per the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 and the Council Tax (Demand Notices)(England) Regulations 2011. For each financial year, billing authorities must issue demand notices (the bill) setting out the amount that is due and how it is to be paid. From April 2013, the demand notice will inform bill payers of their right to pay in 12 instalments.
The government consulted on its technical reforms to council tax between 31 October and 29 December 2011. The government’s response can be found on the consultation page.
The government has set aside £450 million over two years as part of the Autumn Statement package to help support local authorities in freezing their council tax in 2013-14.