Where to find the 270% regional disparity in Band D Council Tax

Council Tax is something we all have to think about, whether as residents or portfolio-builders, and either way it factors into long-term decision-making – such as where to buy property. With this in mind, we ought to be interested in the disparities between the Council Tax incurred by the highest and lowest value properties in each area, and perhaps more significantly, the disparities between regions, when taxing properties of supposedly equal value.

New research published by Coulters shows that such disparities are significant, with regional differences in Council Tax on Band D properties – those worth between £68,000 and £88,000 in 1991 – being as much as £1,300 per year.

While the national average council tax payment is £1,818 per annum, rates tend to be higher in rural areas and lower in cities. This can be seen in Rutland, for instance. A town with only 40,000 residents, that claims the top spot as the UK’s highest rate of Council Tax on Band D properties: at £2,125 a year and some 17% above the national average.

Unfortunately, high Council Tax isn’t confined to one area, with Rutland; Dorset; Nottingham; Lewes; Newark and Sherwood; Hartlepool; Wealden; Durham; West Devon; and Oxford, all being spread across the country, and all charging in excess of £2,000 a year. What we might say, though, is that rural areas in the East Midlands, South East and South West of England are the areas of highest cost. See below the full table of Coulters’ ten most expensive Band D Council tax regions:

RankLocal AuthorityRegionBand D Council Tax
1RutlandEast Midlands£2,125
2Dorset CouncilSouth West£2,119
2NottinghamEast Midlands£2,119
4LewesSouth East£2,111
5Newark & SherwoodEast Midlands£2,100
6HartlepoolNorth East£2,092
7WealdenSouth East£2,091
8DurhamNorth East£2,071
9West DevonSouth West£2,067
10OxfordSouth East£2,064

One of the quirks of the council tax system is that the valuation bands are horrendously outdated. Which, in some cases, is insignificant – such as Scotland’s relatively low council tax but also low property valuations. In other cases, however, this quirk is cringe-inducing – such as London’s shockingly low council tax rate versus its property value bubble.

This fact is reflected when we look at the UK’s lowest Council Tax rates for Band D properties. While all are either around or below £1,200 a year, the lowest rate is paid by residents of one of the most affluent and influential boroughs in the Europe – Westminster. In the borough, home the the Houses of Parliament, billionaires and MP’s apartments, mid-band property owners (and renters) pay just £782 a year in council tax.

Versus Westminster Band D taxpayers, Rutland residents pay over 270% more council tax. And this phenomenon is not just confined to Westminster, with Wandsworth, City of London, and Hammersmith & Fulham claiming the second, third and fourth spots as the lowest regional Council Tax rates in the UK.

Other than the London outlier, Scottish regions claim the five to ten spots as the cheapest places in the UK for Council Tax, all priced within a £30 range, around £1,200 a year.

RankLocal AuthorityRegionBand D Council Tax
3City of LondonLondon£1,007
4Hammersmith & FulhamLondon£1,124
5Na h-Eileanan SiarScotland£1,193
6South LanarkshireScotland£1,203
7Shetland IslandsScotland£1,206
9Orkney IslandsScotland£1,208
10North LanarkshireScotland£1,221

Coulters also cited the gov.uk data to illustrate the disparities within each region, between the highest and lowest property bands and their corresponding rates of Council Tax. Between Bands A (lowest value) and H (highest value – also Band I in Wales), the greatest disparities in Council Tax can be seen in Clackmannanshire, Fife and the Scottish Borders. In the former, which claims the top spot, the disparity between the top and bottom bands is £2,924 or 350%, with the top and bottom brackets paying £1,168 and £4,093 respectively. In the latter regions, the disparity is still over £2,800 apiece, per year.

The other locations listed on Coulters’ top ten intra-regional disparity list – Rutland, Nottingham, Dorset Council, Lewes, Newark & Sherwood, Hartlepool, and Wealden – were all listed on the top ten list for highest Band D Council Tax, and all have bottom-to-top Band disparities of around £2,800.