Can you pay less on your Council Tax?

Most of us have no choice when paying Council Tax – but there are ways to make sure you aren’t paying too much.

Along with everything else, my Council Tax bill has gone up. For my council, it’s up by 3.6%, which works out as an extra £96 a year.

On its own, this £8 a month increase isn’t too bad. But this isn’t the only increase in costs, and when you add them all together, close to £100 here will make a difference.

Though I’ll be able to afford it, I know not everyone will – and some might have seen larger increases. Many councils have voted to increase by the maximum 4.99% that’s allowed, and few others have been forced by financial issues to trigger referendums for even larger hikes.

So I thought it was a good opportunity to share with you ways you might be able to pay less, or at least make how you pay work better for you.

Save money on Council Tax

What is Council Tax?

Your Council Tax largely pays for local services, so the amount you pay is set each year by your local council. It varies all over the country. 

Some of the money will also go towards funding social care as well as police and fire services in your area.

There are eight ‘bands’ of council tax, all based upon the approximate value of the property in 1991. A is the lowest, H the highest.

You can get cashback from Santander 

There are two current accounts you can open which help you save on your Council Tax bill. Though these current accounts have fees, you generally make the money back on cashback from bills, including Council Tax as long as it’s paid by Direct Debit.

The Santander Edge and Edge Up current account will give you 1% cashback on your Council Tax. The money is returned to your account along with cashback on other bills, such as energy, broadband and water. However you will pay a monthly fee.

If you already have the Santander 123 or 123 Lite accounts (now closed to new customers), then that has a lower monthly fee. You can read my comparison of the four accounts to see which I think is best.

Santander Edge vs Edge Up vs 123

Find which out which account is better to earn cashback on your bills.

There are discounts… if you’re eligible

To be fair,  most of you won’t be able to cut the monthly rate unless you fit one of these exceptions:

  • Living alone? In which case you’re able to get a 25% discount on the rate. If you’re the only adult but have children under 18 or not in education, then you qualify for the discount too as a sole adult
  • Students pay nothing if they’re in full-time education
  • If you are unemployed or meet other conditions, it’s possible to claim Council Tax Reduction payments, which could be as much as 100%
  • Got a second home? You might be able to get a discount too. It’s up to the local council, but if it’s furnished it’s possible to get up to 50%. If it’s empty for two years or more, they can charge more
  • If someone has passed away, there is no charge for six months
  • Disabled people who need a bigger house to accommodate space for wheelchairs or extra bathrooms can get their band reduced down a level for example they’d pay C rates on a D property
  • Adults who are medically classed as having a severe mental impairment will get 100% discounted if they live alone or with others who don’t pay, 50% if you live with a carer only, and 25% if you live with just another adult
  • Live in carers can get a 25% to 50% discount if they meet the conditions

You can read the full criteria for all of these on the government’s Council Tax website.

You can check to see if you’re paying too much

Use this government site (or this one in Scotland) to see what band houses around you are in. If it looks like houses around you are less, it might be worth appealing. The StreetCheck website is good to find out neighbouring postcodes.

You can also see what neighbouring houses are valued at, to help get a sense of whether yours is worth more or less. Zoopla is good for this. You’ll ideally want to see valuations from 1991 as changes could have taken place since then.

If both look good, you can try to appeal. If successful you’ll not only get a discount going forward, but also backdated payments.

Be aware though that the council could also choose to raise your band – and how much you pay (and for any neighbours who are also then found to be underpaying).

I’ve taken a look and most of the nearby houses are all on the same band, so it’s unlikely I’d be able to get it changed to a lower band.

You can pay Council Tax over 12 months if you’d prefer

Most Council Tax bills are set to be repaid over 10 months, meaning you don’t pay anything in February and March. For some this break gives a little breather after Christmas to pay off extra expenses.

I choose to spread the cost over 12 months instead of 10, so I know exactly what I’m paying each month. You need to ask your council to change this if you want to do the same.

6 thoughts on “Can you pay less on your Council Tax?

  1. I can’t locate anything about not paying for 6 months if someone dies. My partner died in 2021 and I paid the whole time, when I informed them I was given a 25% single person discount

  2. I certainly wasn’t aware of the 12 month option. Thanks for letting me know

  3. Our bin service is being reduced (due to coronavirus) but I don’t see the council reducing their payment.

    Unfair to complain?

  4. Thanks Andy,
    Very informative article. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I will be paying mine on a TSB credit card giving me 1% cashback and 27 months interest-free credit whilst earning interest on the amount involved.Hopefully I will then transfer the balance to an interest and fee-free balance transfer card. Well done Andy for mentioning the twelve month option.This legal right went curiously unnoticed when it was enacted and local authorities go out of their way not to let people know about it.
    Keep up the good work Andy- you and your counterpart Martin Lewis at Money Saving Expert are heroes!

    1. Thanks Brian, really kind of you!


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