Council Tax rise could be £2 a week

COUNCIL Tax bills in Huntingdonshire are expected to increase by around £110 a year from April. However, the average taxpayer will pay less than that. The tax is based on a benchmark Band D property – homes that were worth between £68,000 and £88,000 in

COUNCIL Tax bills in Huntingdonshire are expected to increase by around £110 a year from April.

However, the average taxpayer will pay less than that.

The tax is based on a benchmark Band D property - homes that were worth between £68,000 and £88,000 in 1991 - but the average home in the district falls into the lower Band C.

For those in Band C, bills are likely to go up, on average, by a little less than £100 - under £2 per week.

Residents in Band D properties can expect to get bills totalling around £1,300 in April, compared with an average bill in the district of about £1,150. The precise amount will depend on where they live.

Three-quarters of Council Tax goes to fund Cambridgeshire County Council activities - predominantly education, social services and local roads - with 10 per cent going to Huntingdonshire District Council and smaller contributions to pay for fire and police services. The fifth element of the tax funds parish councils and can vary from zero (some remote areas have no parish councils) to quite a lot in the district's market towns and Brampton.

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Although none of the authorities has officially finalised its precept for next year, the consensus is that increases of less than five per cent will not attract Government capping. Two years ago, HDC had to re-bill all 67,000 households at a cost of £60,000 after Ministers took a dim view of a proposed 13 per cent rise, as it did of neighbouring South Cambridgeshire's plan to double its very low precept. HDC's tax is still the 18th lowest of England's 238 district councils, and only two county councils have lower precepts than Cambridgeshire.

Recommendations to both district and county councils are both just below five per cent, and the emergency services face similar constraints. The police authority was due to agree its precept yesterday (Tuesday) and the fire service is consulting on increases between 3.5 and 4.5 per cent before a decision next week.

Parish councils are not subject to capping and can therefore be capricious in their levies. St Neots Town Council, for example, is planning to increase its precept by 10 per cent next year.

What residents actually pay varies from a Band A property - worth less than £40,000 in 1991 - at two-thirds of the Band D rate to double the rate for Band H - valued at more than £320,000 17 years ago. There are just 138 Band H properties in the district, all now likely to sell for well over £1million.

Huntingdonshire has 11,000 houses in Band A, 18,000 in Band B (1991 value £40-52,000), 17,000 in Band C (£52-68,000), 11,000 in Band D, 8,000 in Band E (£88-120,000), 3,000 in Band F (£120-160,000) and fewer than 2,000 in Band G (£160-320,000).

Final decisions on Council Tax rates will be taken during the course of February.

* Are you getting value for money? Would you be happy to pay more to allow more cash to be invested in frontline services?

Send your views to editor@huntspost.co.uk

or write to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TB.

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