Council Tax changes in 2017/2018
19th January 2017
From 1 April 2017 the Scottish Government is changing the basis on which properties are assessed for Council Tax and this will increase the charge for Council Tax properties that are banded E to H. The Highland Council has no discretion in this matter and must apply these increases to the Council Tax charges from 1 April 2017. Households living in properties in Bands A-D are not affected by these increases.
Further information on the Council Tax increases by the Scottish Government can be found on their website: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/local-government/17999/counciltax
This change will mean that residents of Band E properties would pay at least £2.05 more per week and £10.06 for Band H properties.
If you would like to check what band your property falls under you can check on the Assessor's web site: https://www.saa.gov.uk/
Queries relating to Council Tax Bands must be made to the Assessor by emailing email@example.com or by phoning 01463 703311.
In addition to the increase in Council Tax set by the Scottish Government on properties falling within Bands E to H, The Highland Council now has been given the flexibility to increase Council Tax on all properties, Bands A to H, by up to 3% from 1 April 2017. Council Tax legislation, set by the Scottish Government, determines any increase must be applied to all Bands in A to H.
Budget Leader Cllr Bill Fernie said: "The Scottish Government has increased higher council tax bands substantially with the "Council Tax multiplier". This will mean higher bills for council tax payers in bands E and above. A motion agreed by the Council, that money raised in Highland should stay in Highland, and the Scottish Government will now allow councils to retain this extra income. This will help to reduce our budget gap by about £5 million, however, with the cut in our grant settlement, this leaves us with around £17 million still to find in savings.
“Where we can increase income, this reduces the need for deeper cuts to essential services. We have identified around £16 million of potential savings in service cuts and increased charges and we are currently discussing these with staff and with opposition groups. We will also be proposing a 3% increase in local council tax within the limits set by the Scottish Government as part of the range of measures to close the budget gap.
“We remain open to listening to the views of service users and the staff providing those services, and we are seeking consensus across the chamber in order to make the best, most pragmatic decisions for the people of Highland."
The Highland Council will be asked to set the Council Tax at its meeting on 16 February 2017.
Cllr Fernie went on to say: “We are keen to ensure that people are aware of the forthcoming changes to the basis on which properties are assessed for council tax after many years. The Council provides a range of support and assistance to those who are in financial difficulty.”
If households would like support with their personal budgeting they should contact the Council's Welfare Support Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 0800 0901004. This support includes checking and claiming your entitlement to all benefits. Alternatively households may wish to contact their local Citizens Advice Bureau which provides a service on behalf of the Council to help individuals and households manage debts.
Financial assistance is available for those on low incomes to reduce their Council Tax bills. This is called Council Tax Reduction. Households can check whether they are eligible for assistance by completing the Highland Council’s innovative ‘Apply Once’ online application form at http://www.highland.gov.uk/applyonce . This form will also automatically identify any other entitlements that are administered by the Council based on the individual’s circumstances. Households supply their details only once and the Council will put into payment all entitlements that are legitimately available to them.
Households already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction will have their entitlement automatically recalculated. The 82,000 households who are currently paying their Council Tax by Direct Debit do not need to cancel or change their existing payment amount as this will be updated automatically from 1 April 2017. Households who wish to set up a Direct Debit for payment of their Council Tax can do so at www.highland.gov.uk/counciltax.