What does Council Tax pay for?

by | Jan 24, 2023 | Bills, Council Tax

What does Council Tax pay for? If you live in the UK, the chances are that you pay Council Tax to your local authority. The amount of tax paid will vary based on the value of your property, as well as if you’re eligible for a Council Tax discount.

You may well wonder how your local council are spending the money you pay in taxes. While the exact breakdown will vary from council to council, we’ve outlined the major uses of Council Tax below.

You might be surprised at how many times a day you use a service paid for by your taxes!  

Which services does Council Tax pay for? 

The main services Council Tax covers include:

  • Police and fire services

  • Leisure and recreation facilities, including parks

  • Libraries and education

  • Care for older residents and those with disabilities

  • Waste collection, disposal and recycling

  • Road maintenance, including street cleaning and lighting

  • Administration, including updating birth, death and marriage records

The largest single portion of tax goes towards social care for children and vulnerable adults.

A fire engine leaves Ealing fire station

Fire and emergency rescue is one of the services funded through Council Tax


What else does Council Tax pay for?

What local authorities can spend tax revenue on is controlled by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

Outside of the essential services listed above, Council Tax funds can be used as needed, as long as it’s approved by the CIPFA. This spending might include things like support for the voluntary sector, maintenance of cemeteries, community development, support for those experiencing homelessness and more.

Your local authority will regularly publish reports on how they are spending tax revenue. In addition to these reports, they’re also required to open their detailed financial records to the public for at least 30 days every year, during which you can look into any spending you are curious about.


Who pays Council Tax?

Most people aged 18 and over pay Council Tax in the UK. If you are in full-time education, you are exempt from Council Tax provided every member of your household is also studying. Read more about how to apply for student Council Tax exemption here.

You could also qualify for a discount on your Council Tax, for example, if you are the only resident at your address who’s over the age of 18 or if some residents are ‘disregarded’. To learn more about Council Tax discounts in the UK, including how to apply if you’re eligible, visit our article on the subject.

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Read more about Council Tax in the UK:

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