Areas in the UK with the highest council tax

The government has released its latest annual Council Tax figures for 2022/23, and it’s not good news for most people.

The average Council Tax rate for a property in band D across England has increased to £1,966 – 3.5% higher than it was last year. Although it’s less than the 4.4% increase for 2021/22 and the lowest rise since 2016/17, residents paying Council Tax may be left frustrated with their bill.

With rising energy prices, inflation, food prices, and the cost of living, even a 3.5% Council Tax increase can feel like it’s pinching your wallet empty. But there are some areas that have seen a much more significant increase than the national average, and in this article, we’ll be exploring just that.

We’ll take a look at the areas with the highest Council Tax in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland as they have a different system called Rates). We’ll also explore how to determine if you’re paying too much Council Tax, how to challenge local authorities, and how much you can expect to save.

Areas in the UK with the highest council tax

Unsurprisingly, topping the list for the highest Council Tax in the UK are areas in England. What may come as a surprise, though, is that the highest two Council Tax rates are areas in East Midlands, as opposed to places where the average house price is much higher such as in the city of London.

Topping the list is Rutland – the UK’s smallest county. A Band D property in Rutland will have to pay £2,300, which is 17% more than the average in England. Second place in Nottingham, where the Council Tax rate will be £2,294. To better illustrate the differences between regions and countries, we have broken down the top 10 areas with the highest Council Tax bills within England, Wales, and Scotland.

Areas with the highest Council Tax in England

The regions with the highest Council Tax bills are the East Midlands, South West, and South East of England. Whilst the South of the country could be expected, East Midlands is a surprise inclusion in the list.

Topping the list are Rutland and Nottingham, with a Band D Council Tax bill of £2,300 and £2,294, respectively, with both areas being located in the East Midlands. Number three on the list is Dorset – a coastal county in the South West of the country – with a band D Council Tax at £2,290.

Number four on the list is Lewes in the South East of England, with a band D rate of £2,281. Tied for fifth place is a neighbouring district of Lewes called Wealden, and Newark & Sheldon, which is located in the East Midlands. Band D properties in both areas will have a Council Tax bill of £2,252. The ten highest Council Tax areas in England can be found below.

RankLocal AuthorityRegionBand D Council Tax
1RutlandEast Midlands£2,300
2NottinghamEast Midlands£2,294
3DorsetSouth West£2,290
4LewesSouth East£2,281
5WealdenSouth East£2,252
5Newark & SheldonEast Midlands£2,252
7West DevonSouth West£2,231
8BristolSouth West£2,230
9OxfordSouth East£2,225
10HastingsSouth East£2,219

Areas with the highest Council Tax in Wales

The regions with the highest Council Tax bills in Wales are mainly located in the South of the country, with the four highest band D properties being in that region. Topping the list is Blaenau Gwent, with £2,098. It is followed by Merthyr Tydfil with £2,049, Neath Port Talbot with £2,011, and Bridgend with £1,951.

In fifth place is Gwynedd, which is the first entry to be from the North of Wales. Council Tax bills for band D properties in Gwynedd are £1,893. The ten highest Council Tax areas in Wales can be found below.

Rank Local AuthorityRegionBand D Council Tax
1Blaenau GwentSouth£2,098
2Merthyr TydfilSouth£2,049
3Neath Port TalbotSouth£2,011
6Rhondda Cynon TaffSouth£1,886

Areas with the highest Council Tax in Scotland

Topping the list in Scotland is Midlothian with a band D Council Tax bill of £1,442, followed by the port city of Aberdeen with £1,418. A close third is East Ayrshire with £1,416, along with Stirling and South Ayrshire with £1,384 and £1,382 respectively.

As you can see, the Council Tax bills for band D properties are much lower in Scotland than in Wales and England, but so are the average house prices. The ten highest Council Tax areas in Scotland can be found below.

RankLocal AuthorityBand D Council Tax
2Aberdeen City£1,418
3East Ayrshire£1,416
5South Ayrshire£1,383
6North Ayrshire£1,382
7City of Edinburgh£1,378

What is a Council Tax band?

A Council Tax band is a category that your house is placed in. It is the primary factor that determines how much Council Tax you pay each year and is primarily based on the value of your property. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) determines the property’s value from assessments made in April 1991 for properties in England and April 2003 for properties in Wales.

The VOA is the government body that is responsible for ensuring all properties in England and Wales are in their correct Council Tax bands. The VOA automatically assesses properties that are newly built or have had changes made – for instance, houses that have been made smaller or bigger. Alongside the property’s price, there are other factors that will influence what Council Tax band it is given. These include the property’s size, location, layout, character, and change in use; these factors will be reviewed during a Council Tax band review or appeal.

Am I paying too much in Council Tax?

It’s difficult to say if you’re paying too much or not. When the initial property valuations were done in April 1991, some properties may have been incorrectly valued. During that period, house valuations were done in a rush due to a lack of time and resources. As such, your property could be one that was incorrectly valued.

How much could I save from a Council Tax band reassessment?

It’s difficult to give an accurate number since it will depend on your current Council Tax band, how much your local council is currently charging, etc. But, being put in a lower tax band could save you anywhere from £100 to £400 each year.

If you are found to be in a higher Council Tax band, you will also be backdated for overpayments as far back as 1993, when the tax started. This can be a healthy rebate of thousands of pounds if you’re found to be paying more than you should be.

How do I know if I am paying too much Council Tax?

It’s not easy to determine how much you should be paying and will take some working out. You don’t want to rush to your local council without being sure that you’re paying more Council Tax than you should be; a Council Tax band reassessment could mean that you end up paying more, so it’s crucial you follow the guidelines below.

Find out what Council Tax band your property and your neighbour’s properties fall under

You can find your Council Tax band using the gov.UK website. The government has a checker tool that can show the tax band for any property; all you have to do is enter your postcode. A list will appear of all the properties on your in that postcode along with its registered Council Tax band. This will help you determine whether your property is being charged higher Council Tax than your neighbours or not. If your house is the size and age, then this information could be the foundation upon which you can build your Council Tax appeal.

Again, it could be that the neighbouring properties are incorrectly in a lower tax band. Alerting your local council to this can result in their properties being ‘upbanded’ – moved up to a higher Council Tax band. To ensure this doesn’t happen, you can follow the next step, which will help you determine whether you should go ahead or not.

Find out what the value of your home was in 1991

There are various tools out there to determine this. For instance, Nationwide’s House Price Index will allow you to calculate the value of your home at any point in the past, including 1991. However, in order to use this tool, you will have to know the current market value of your property.

Once you have calculated the value of your property in 1991, you can use this information to cross-check it with its current Council Tax band. If your property was inaccurately valued when the bands were set, it could be that it’s been in the wrong Council Tax band ever since, and you can get a rebate. To verify this, it’s a good idea to check the prices that identical properties were sold at in your street or area – this information can be found on Zoopla or Rightmove. If the numbers are inconsistent with yours, this could indicate that you are in the wrong Council Tax band, pointing towards a strong case for a review.

Before you contact your local authority for a Council Tax reassessment, it’s imperative that you determine you are in a higher band compared to your neighbours. Also, there should be no reason to justify you being in a high band (i.e. your property has no significant improvements or extensions). If these criteria have been satisfied, you can proceed with a Council Tax appeal.

How do I challenge my Council Tax band?

There are two main methods to have your Council Tax band reassessed.

Contact the Valuation Office Agency

Your first course of action to challenge your Council Tax band is to get in touch with the VOA to explain why you believe your current Council Tax band is wrong. This is where you would also provide the information you’ve gathered from the steps above to substantiate your claim.

For your claim, you need to provide two things – evidence of your house price and the addresses of up to five properties. For proof of your house price, you can use your own house, or of similar homes, if they were sold between the dates of 1 April 1989 and 31 March 1993 in England (or 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2005 for Wales). In terms of the address of up to five properties, these are properties that are the same age, size, and type in your street or area and are also in a lower tax band than yours.

By providing the VOA with these things, it may be enough for them to reassess your property and lower your Council Tax band without a formal challenge.

Formal challenge

If the VOA decides against lowering your band, you will be able to file a formal challenge. On the government’s online tool to check your Council Tax band, you are able to challenge your property’s band formally.

It’s essential to keep in mind that you cannot request to lower your Council Tax, only reassessed. This means that it could go up or down, hence why it’s vital you have strong evidence of being in an incorrect tax band before proceeding.