The government sets many different types of tax that UK citizens have to pay. Some of the most common are: Income tax, council tax, corporation tax, value-added tax (VAT), inheritance tax, stamp duty, business rates, and excise duties.
Most people will have to pay income tax, VAT and council tax at some point in their lives. Income tax is charged on any income you receive over your personal allowance (£12,570, for the tax year 2021/22) and VAT is charged on most goods and services you buy. This article focuses on council tax, which is an annual fee that’s charged by your local council on the property you live in.
You’ll usually pay it in ten monthly instalments, although most councils will allow you to pay it in 12 if you’re struggling with your budget.
In this article, we’ll reveal the areas of the UK that pay the least council tax, explain how it’s worked out and give you an idea of where your money goes.
What are the areas in the UK with the lowest council tax?
Westminster and Wandsworth are the councils that charge the least council tax, with Windsor & Maidenhead, Na h-Eileanan Siar and Hammersmith & Fulham also charging residents living in an average Band D property less than £1,2000 per year.
In contrast, the most expensive places to live for council tax are Blaenau Gwent, Kingston-upon-Thames and Merthyr Tydfil, all of which charge Band D residents more than £2,000 per year.
Keep reading to find out which other councils charge low council tax.
Which councils have the cheapest council tax rates?
Here are the lowest council tax charges for the average Band D property, for the tax year 2021/22:
|1||Very low tax||Westminster||£828|
|2||Very low tax||Wandsworth||£845|
|3||Low tax||Windsor & Maidenhead||£1,149|
|4||Low tax||Na h-Eileanan Siar||£1,193|
|5||Low tax||Hammersmith & Fulham||£1,196|
|6||Low tax||South Lanarkshire||£1,203|
|7||Low tax||Shetland Islands||£1,206|
|9||Low tax||Orkney Islands||£1,208|
|10||Low tax||North Lanarkshire||£1,221|
|11||Low tax||Dumfries & Galloway||£1,223|
|13||Low tax||Scottish Borders||£1,254|
|14||Low tax||City of London||£1,270|
|15||Low tax||West Lothian||£1,276|
|17||Low tax||East Renfrewshire||£1,290|
|18||Low tax||West Dunbartonshire||£1,294|
|20||Low tax||East Lothian||£1,303|
|22||Low tax||East Dunbartonshire||£1,309|
|24||Low tax||Perth & Kinross||£1,318|
|26||Low tax||Kensington & Chelsea||£1,331|
|29||Low tax||City of Edinburgh||£1,339|
|31||Low tax||North Ayrshire||£1,343|
|34||Low tax||South Ayrshire||£1,345|
In contrast, the places with the highest council tax are as follows:
|1||Very high tax||Blaenau Gwent||£2,078|
|2||Very high tax||Kingston-upon-Thames||£2,057|
|3||Very high tax||Merthyr Tydfil||£2,018|
|4||Very high tax||Neath Port Talbot||£1,996|
|5||Very high tax||Harrow||£1,962|
|6||Very high tax||Richmond-upon-Thames||£1,959|
|7||Very high tax||Bridgend||£1,937|
|8||Very high tax||Gateshead||£1,915|
|9||Very high tax||Nottingham||£1,899|
|10||Very high tax||Havering||£1,893|
How is council tax calculated?
The amount of council tax you pay depends on how much your local authority needs to fund its services, what your personal circumstances are and which valuation band your property falls in.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) values properties that aren’t used for business purposes, based on the price the property would’ve sold for on the open market on 1st April 1991 in England and 1st April 2003 in Wales. These are the dates when the council tax was introduced to replace the community charge.
When deciding on a property’s worth, the VOA will assess things like the building’s size and layout, its use, its character and where it’s located.
All properties are assessed on the same basis, including ones that have been bought under discount schemes like Right to Buy, so discounts aren’t taken into account when determining the band.
Note that a band can change if a property has been extended or reduced in size or if similar properties nearby have changed bands.
What are the different council tax bands?
The council tax bands in England are as follows:
|Band||Property value at 1st April 1991|
|A||Up to £40,000|
|B||£40,001 to £52,000|
|C||£52,001 to £68,000|
|D||£68,001 to £88,000|
|E||£88,001 to £120,000|
|F||£120,001 to £160,000|
|G||£160,001 to £320,000|
|H||More than £320,000|
The council tax bands in Wales are as follows:
|Band||Property value at 1st April 2003|
|A||Up to £44,000|
|B||£44,001 to £65,000|
|C||£65,001 to £91,000|
|D||£91,001 to £123,000|
|E||£123,001 to £162,000|
|F||£162,001 to £223,000|
|G||£223,001 to £324,000|
|H||£324,001 to £424,000|
|I||More than £424,000|
You can check which council tax band your property is in on the government’s website.
Can I get a reduction on my council tax bill?
Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to get a reduction on your council tax bill. Contact your local authority if any of the following apply to you:
- You live alone or you’re the only adult in your home
- You’re a student or you live with students
- You’re on a low income
- You get benefits like Jobseekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Pension Credit or Income Support
- You’re a care leaver in Scotland or certain counties in England and Wales, where you’re exempt from paying council tax from the ages of 18 to 26
- You live in a bigger home due to you or someone living with you having a disability
- You’re severely mentally impaired or you live with someone who is
- You’ve moved into hospital or a care home
- You’re in prison for a reason other than failing to pay council tax
What is council tax spent on?
Your local authority decides where your money goes, according to which services are in need of funding.
Council tax usually goes back into the local community, towards things like:
- Rubbish and waste collection
- Police and fire services
- Transport and highway services
- Adult social care
- Libraries and education
- Environmental health and trading standards
- Leisure and recreation projects
- Administration and record-keeping
Council tax is an annual fee that’s charged by your local council on the property you live in.
How much council tax you pay depends on how much your local authority decides to charge, what your personal circumstances are and the valuation band your property falls into.
Some of the cheapest areas to live for council tax are Westminster, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead, Na h-Eileanan Siar and Hammersmith & Fulham, while Blaenau Gwent, Kingston-upon-Thames and Merthyr Tydfil are the most expensive.
Council tax usually goes back into the local community, paying for things like rubbish collection, police and fire services, environmental health and trading standards and adult social care.