How much will my council tax bill increase? 2024 Bands and discounts explained

Council tax bills are set for above-inflation increases. We've rounded up the changes across England, Scotland and Wales.

Council tax 2024: a bill with a rising graph line behind it
Council tax 2024: bills will see above-inflation hikes over the next year (images: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Households will see an above-inflation increase in their 2024 council tax bill, as most local authorities are set to hike bills by 5%.

The news comes as a blow to households already struggling with high energy prices, record interest rates and the broader cost of living crisis. Several other household utilities are also set to see big bill hikes this April.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) confirmed in February that English local authorities will be able to increase the levy by up to 5% for the 2024/25 financial year. But several cash-strapped councils have been given special dispensation to bring in bigger rises. It comes after bills went up by an average of 5.1% (£99) in 2023/24.

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This year's set of 5% hikes is made up of a maximum 3% rise for core council tax, plus another 2% if the council has adult social care responsibilities. The changes mean the average Band D household will have an annual bill of £2,168 - a rise of £103 compared to the current financial year.

Scotland is freezing council tax - although monthly bills will still rise as a result of increases to water bills north of the border. Meanwhile, the Welsh government has not set a limit for council tax hikes. It means several areas are in line for higher bill increases than in England.

Where will the biggest council tax increases be in 2024?

Dozens of English councils are set to implement the maximum allowed increase from April 2024. These include the likes of Buckinghamshire Council, Dorset Council, Dudley Council and Suffolk County Council.

However, there are four effectively bankrupt councils that have been given special dispensation by central government to go further. Slough Borough Council, Thurrock Council and Woking Borough Council can all hike their rates by up to 10%. Birmingham City Council will hike its levy by 10% (£190 a year) this April, with another 10% increase earmarked for 2025/26.

The Local Government Association (LGA) had previously warned steep hikes would be necessary as its own analysis had found English councils face a £4 billion funding gap over the next two years. LGA resources board chair, Councillor Pete Marland, said: “Councils have led the way at finding ways to save money and reduce costs and this work will continue, but they will still need to raise council tax this year and many will need to make further savings to local services in order to plug remaining funding gaps.”

Announcing the new local government financial settlement, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove played down these concerns. He said: “This settlement, and the changes we have made to address concerns raised through the consultation, will provide local authorities with the tools to support their local communities, continue to reform their services for the long-term, and to help communities prepare for the future.”

In Wales, where council tax is a responsibility of the devolved government in Cardiff, several councils are proposing even larger hikes. These range from 6.7% (Caerphilly County Borough Council) to 9.8% (Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn or Anglesey County Council).

How can I save on my council tax bill?

You may be able to make a large saving by checking your council tax band. As well as seeing how much you are currently paying, you’ll be able to check whether you’re in the right band. If you aren’t in the correct bracket, you could be due a large refund. Your council tax will also be reduced.

You might also be able to get a discount or reduction on your council tax bill. All councils provide support for people who have reached state pension age. It’s worth contacting your local authority to find out what you’re eligible for.

If you own a home that’s empty and unfurnished, your council can apply a discount of up to 50%. But according to the latest crackdown on long-term empty homes which will be implemented from 1 April, if the property remains empty for one year, you will have to pay double the council tax. Earlier, the time limit for two years. 

Second homes used to qualify for a discount on council tax bills. The exact reduction depended on your local authority. However, councils across England and Scotland will be able to charge the owners of holiday homes a premium of up to 100% above their band’s basic council tax rate from April 2024. It comes after new rules were introduced in a bid to increase the availability of housing stock. Wales has had similar rules in place since 2017.

Discounts are usually available if you’re the only adult living in your home, or you live with someone who is registered as disabled. Students, apprentices and live-in carers (who are not the main resident’s spouse or civil partner) can be exempted from council tax.

If you’re a low-income earner, or live with someone who is, you could also qualify for a council tax reduction of up to 100%. The exact criteria for this discount varies from council to council. You can also claim relief if you find yourself in difficult circumstances - for example, you’ve lost your job. Eligibility and discount rates vary between councils.

Ultimately, the best way to find out what you’re eligible for is to find your local council and get in touch with them directly. 

Oojal Dhanjal
Staff writer

Oojal has a background in consumer journalism and is interested in helping people make the most of their money. Oojal has an MA in international journalism from Cardiff University, and before joining MoneyWeek, she worked for Look After My Bills, a personal finance website, where she covered guides on household bills and money-saving deals. Her bylines can be found on Newsquest, Voice Wales, DIVA and Sony Music and she has explored subjects ranging from luxury real estate to the cost of living, politics and LGBTQIA+ issues. Outside of work, Oojal enjoys travelling, going to the movies and learning Spanish with a little green owl. 

With contributions from