Everything you need to know about why your West Northamptonshire council tax bill has gone up

Surprised by the increase? Then look no further

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:18 am

There has been some shock as council tax bills have arrived through residents' doors and in email inboxes across the new 'West Northamptonshire area over the past week.

Many have been surprised by the figure at the bottom being more than expected, with some having to pay more than double because of the local government changes.

The switch from a two-tier council system to a unitary authority will hopefully make things simpler but it is far from that when it comes to working out everyone's council tax.

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West Northamptonshire Council has been sending out its first council tax bills - with some surprised by the increase from last year
West Northamptonshire Council has been sending out its first council tax bills - with some surprised by the increase from last year

Because the county, borough and district councils set their own council tax rates, officers have had to bring them into line as they are being merged together.

The overall increase for the council's proportion is 4.99 per cent but the 'harmonisation' means the increase is actually different depending on if you live in Daventry, Northampton or South Northamptonshire.

An average band D property in Daventry paid £1,451.56 in 2020/21 but will this year pay £1,536.55 - a rise of £84.99, or 5.83 per cent.

For Northampton, it has gone from £1,516.26 to £1,584.20 - a £67.94 increase or 4.46 per cent - and in South Northants, it has gone from £1,481.75 to £1,559.80 - a £78.05 hike or 5.25 per cent.

The harmonisation scheme is designed to make all areas have the same council tax for band D over a period of three years, rather than one big change.

On top of that, you have to factor in the precepts for adult social care, the police, the fire service, and parish councils and 'special expenses'.

The council's average 4.99 per cent increase is made up of 1.99 per cent as the general fee, the highest possible increase without a referendum, and three per cent ringfenced for adult social care.

The police and fire precepts are set by the Northamptonshire police, fire and crime commissioner - the police part has increased by five per cent and the fire bit by 8.07 per cent.

Then there are the parish council precepts, of which there are more than 150 across West Northamptonshire, and all are set individually.

Finally there are 'special expenses' applied to some areas which go towards the upkeep of public spaces like parks that are not covered by parish councils.

For example a band D property in East Hunsbury pays an extra £17.21 a year and one in Collingtree is charged 40p - but most pay nothing.

The reason some households have seen even bigger increases is because of the changes to the local council tax reduction scheme, which replaced council tax benefit in 2013.

It essentially sets a minimum contribution from low-income taxpayers or those on benefits and the council pays the rest - but it is up to individual councils to decide what to set it as.

In 2020/21, Daventry's was 20 per cent, Northampton's was 31 per cent and South Northamptonshire's was 8.5 per cent.

West Northamptonshire Council has decided to set its minimum at 20 per cent - so low-income households in Daventry will see no difference but the others will.

Those in Northampton will benefit from having their contribution cut by 11 per cent but those in South Northamptonshire will have to pay more, the minimum now 11.5 per cent higher.

All of these decisions were agreed at the Shadow West Northamptonshire Authority's meeting on February 23, when the 2021/22 budget was set.

For the full breakdown of council tax charges for every property band and every parish in West Northamptonshire, click here.