Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

English council taxes rise by 4%

Council tax form
The average rise this year will be the lowest since 1994

Council tax bills in England are going up by an average of 4% in the coming financial year.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the average household bill would rise from 1,101 to 1,146.

The government said the increases that have been set by councils were the smallest for 14 years.

The annual rise in council tax bills peaked at 12.9% in 2003-04, but since then annual increases have been lower.

Last year the government told councils it wanted them to keep increases to 5% or below, and most have complied.

The Local Government Association chairman, Sir Simon Milton, said councils would struggle to keep within their budgets.

Budget squeeze

"Councils have been under a real financial squeeze during the annual struggle to keep bills down," he said.

"The stark reality is that low council tax rises have come at a cost and many councils have had to make tough decisions on spending," he added.

Most dwellings in England, nearly two-thirds, are in bands A to C for council tax.

But the tax is based on the number of band D dwellings in each area, and the charge for band D homes is used as a benchmark to calculate the charge for the other bands.

This year band D dwellings will see an average 4% rise in their bills, going up from 1,321 to 1,374 a year.

Nine years ago, in 1999-00, the average band D charge in England was just 798.

"The cost of living is going through the roof under Labour, and this latest round of council tax hikes will mean falling disposable incomes for working families and pensioners," said the Tory local government spokesman Eric Pickles.

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