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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 October 2005, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Council tax doubles in a decade
Council Tax notice
For many the total tops 1,000
The average council tax bill has doubled since it was introduced 12 years ago.

Figures from the Halifax show that households in England pay an average of 1,009 a year, a rise of 121%, while in Wales bills are up 186% to 760.

Scottish households pay an average of 925, a 101% rise, according to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The increases are nearly four times the rise in the Retail Price Index during the same period.

Martin Ellis, chief economist at the Halifax, said: "Council tax bills are growing significantly faster than inflation."

23 of 30 most expensive boroughs in south east
Five in east England, one each in East Anglia and South West
12 of 30 areas with lowest bills in Wales
Five in Yorkshire and the Humber, three in Scotland

Bills can vary considerably between local authorities - the difference can be hundreds of pounds between neighbouring boroughs.

The highest bills are in Richmond-upon-Thames, south-west London, where the average is 1,549. The lowest are in nearby Wandsworth at an average of 571. That borough also has had the lowest rise in its bills at 45% - the only area in England with an increase of less than 50%.

The biggest rise has been in Wellingborough in the East Midlands, where council tax has soared by 374% since 1993.

Pensioner protest

Some campaigners have declared themselves willing to go to prison rather than pay increases they say are unfair.

Sylvia Hardy, who went to jail for non-payment
Council tax rebel Sylvia Hardy

On Wednesday, Exeter pensioner Sylvia Hardy was released two days into a seven-day sentence for refusing to pay an increase more than the rate of inflation. A mysterious benefactor paid the outstanding 53.71, much to her chagrin.

Last month the Government postponed its re-evaluation of homes for council tax in England until after the Lyons inquiry - a major review into local government finance - a move which could put off further rises until 2006.

Every home in Wales was revalued last year, with a third moving up at least one valuation band and 8% moving down.

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