News story

Safeguarding family finances

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Eric Pickles helps with Council Tax bills.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today (8 March 2013) alerts residents to bill changes that will allow them to pay their council over 12 months instead of 10, as more councils signal their intention to freeze next month.

The latest government figures published today reveal the 257 councils that have said they intend to accept the government’s grant offer and freeze their Council Tax for 2013 to 2014. The final Council Tax level and numbers freezing will not be known until later this month.

Legislation passed by the government means that Council Tax payers can now request to pay their 2013 to 2014 bills over a longer period of time lowering their monthly bills and easing the cost of living burden.

This important change when coupled with the Council Tax freeze offer is providing real help to hard working families and pensioners with their cost of living expenses.

The government set aside £450 million for local government in England to freeze Council Tax in 2013 to 2014, which will be the third successive year in which a freeze scheme applies.

Ministers have also urged 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:

“As council tax bills starting landing on doormats in the next few weeks people will discover they can now pay online or set up their direct debit payment plans for 12 months instead of the old 10. This important change will help local tax payers safeguard their family finances by lowering their payments for 10 months by about £24 with just a simple phone call.

“Added to which at least 257 councils have signed up to our freeze deal. The combined effect of our action means council tax bills, which doubled under the last government, have fallen by 9.5% in real terms since we came into government.”

Further information

The support for local authorities means that taxpayers living in a Band D home in England could save £61 compared to a 5% rise in council tax. The cumulative effect of the 3 council tax freezes is potentially worth £425 compared to a 5% rise in each of the last 3 years for residents in Band D homes. See the Council Tax freeze announcement.

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 to 2014.

A recent survey by pollsters Ipsos MORI has found that 64% of voters are not happy to pay more council taxes and 65% of those surveyed have not noticed any changes to the quality of council services since the reductions in council funding (Ipsos MORI press release, 30 January 2013).

All councils should be looking to make sensible savings to their budgets and follow every one of the 50 Ways to Save that was published by the government earlier in the year.