Council Tax - what do the changes mean?

Following months of deliberation, announcements from Scottish Government and a major public engagement exercise, Aberdeenshire Council met recently to set its budget for the coming year (Thursday 9th February 2017).

One of the most debated topics was the rise in local Council Tax rates.

In the recent budget engagement exercise, which reached an audience of nearly 180,000 on social media alone, the proposal to increase Council Tax was the second most responded-to question. 

53.4% of people who answered the questions specific to Council Tax said they would support a rise of up to 3% to support delivery of services within Aberdeenshire. Respondents generally expressed support for a rise, understanding that the Council Tax freeze which was in place for 9 years could not go on indefinitely, and that services must be supported financially somehow. They were keen to protect money raised locally being spent locally, and sought assurances that money raised in Aberdeenshire would not be used to fund spend in other parts of the country.

The Scottish Government has implemented a national reform which results in an automatic increase being applied to properties, right across Scotland, in band E-H.

Councillors took the views of the engagement exercise into account, as well as the implications of the national increase and debated the impact of a local rise. As a result the decision was taken to increase Council Tax for the year 2017/2018 by 2.5% locally.

The below shows the increase across all bands, taking into account the national increase as well as the local 2.5%.

 

2017/18 Council Tax, Water and Wastewater charges  
Valuation Bands* Band Council Tax Water Waste Water Total
£27,000 or under A  £        779.69  £ 132.84  £      154.20  £ 1,066.73
£27,001 to £35,000 B  £        909.63  £ 154.98  £      179.90  £ 1,244.51
£35,001 to £45,000 C  £    1,039.58  £ 177.12  £      205.60  £ 1,422.30
£45,001 to £58,000 D  £    1,169.53  £ 199.26  £      231.30  £ 1,600.09
£58,001 to £80,000 E  £    1,536.63  £ 243.54  £      282.70  £ 2,062.87
£80,001 to £106,000 F  £    1,900.48  £ 287.82  £      334.10  £ 2,522.40
£106,001 to £212,000 G  £    2,290.32  £ 332.10  £      385.50  £ 3,007.92
£212,001 & over H  £    2,865.34  £ 398.52  £      462.60  £ 3,726.46


 *Set as per the most recent valuation exercise in 1991.

The national increase and the local increase combined will increase the total Council Tax income for Aberdeenshire to £133 million.

There is help available for those on a low income under the council tax reduction scheme, which replaced council tax Benefit in 2013.

Anyone who is liable to pay council tax can apply for council tax reduction, which is a means tested scheme calculated on the basis of a household’s make-up and income.

The scheme includes a reduction specifically intended for people living in a band E-H house People already in receipt of council tax reduction and living in Band E to H properties do not need to submit a second claim.

To qualify for this new reduction you must meet one of the criteria listed below:
• Single claimants must have an income of less than £321 per week (£16, 692 per year).
• Couples and claimants with dependent children must have an income of less than £479 per week (£24,908 per year).

In order to qualify for the reduction you need to submit a valid claim along with the required supporting evidence. You can apply on-line at http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/benefits-and-grants/welfare-reform/council-tax-reduction/ 

If you are liable for council tax from 1 April 2017 and think you might qualify it is important that you submit a claim for council tax reduction by 30 April 2017 as backdating is limited to one month for working age claimants and three months for those of pension credit age.

There is more information on the council tax reduction scheme as it affects all council tax bands and as it specifically affects those in Bands E to H on the Council’s website.

If you have any queries on the above scheme you can e-mail asat@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or alternatively telephone 03456 608 1200.

Speaking after the meeting Co-Leader Councillor Alison Evison said: “We, not uncommonly in the public sector, are in a position of financial challenges within the context of a changing local economy. When it came to setting budgets and Council Tax, the decisions we took were not approached lightly. They are all part of a delicate balance to enable us to continue to deliver the public services which people in Aberdeenshire depend upon. That is why the feedback from residents was a cornerstone of our decision making process.”

Co – Leader Councillor Richard Thomson stressed the importance of seeking assistance where it is needed: “There is support available and we want to make sure that those on low incomes are afforded the protection they need. That is why we are encouraging them to contact officers and find out what is offered. There is just a short window in which to apply for support so we encourage those applicable to investigate this as a matter of priority.”