85 percent of authorities freeze council tax but 43 percent of households to see increase in bills


The annual Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) council tax survey shows that while 85% of councils in England are freezing council tax, at least 43% of households will still see some increase in their council tax bills.

The difference arises because household council tax bills are made up of charges from several different authorities. For example, charges for some emergency services are collected by the local council.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has urged councils to freeze council tax this year and offered them funding to do so. Despite the number of households who are seeing an increase in their council tax bill, the survey shows that overall the response to this offer from councils has generally been positive. Councils which have declined this offer will almost certainly be focusing on the difficult financial challenges which they expect to face in 2013/14 and beyond.

Of those authorities increasing tax, none are increasing by more than 4.0%. Following the introduction of the Localism Bill, local authority constituents now have the right to a referendum on council tax if it increases by over a percentage pre-determined by central government. This percentage is currently 4.0% for police and fire authorities and 3.5% for other authorities and, at present, no councils are set to exceed this limit.

Across England, the average band D council tax bill has increased by 0.3% (£4.39). This is a relatively small increase compared with last year’s average which was a decrease of 35 pence.

The survey also shows that there are disparities between regions. The largest average increase for a band D council tax bill is in the North East where it will rise by 0.9% or £13.43 while Greater London will see a decrease of 0.3% or £4.19.

Ian Carruthers, CIPFA Policy Director, commented,

“Councillors must take council tax decisions based on local priorities. For the most part, councils have responded positively to the Government’s offer of council tax freeze funding for 2012/13. Where rises are planned none appear likely to trigger a local referendum.

“Service and job cuts are likely to continue as councils must balance their budgets. Our recent survey of finance directors’ confidence is indicating that there is significant anxiety about the financial years 2013/14.”




CIPFA Press Office

T: 020 7543 5600

E: corporate@cipfa.org

Notes to Editors:

1.  There are CIPFA Spokespeople available for interview and comment.    

2.  The 43% figure of households that will see an increase in their council tax bill does not take into account precepts from parish councils, so the final proportion is likely to be higher.

3.   The survey results, upon which this release is based, will be updated regularly on our website. The site also contains further information to assist in understanding the council tax change: www.cipfastats.net

4.   The average council tax demand on a “band D” property comprises three basic elements:

  • Local demands of the billing authority;
  • Major precepts (e.g. County Councils, Greater London Authority and Police & Fire Authorities);
  • Parish / Community Council precepts

These elements are made up as follows:


Make-up of the band “D” bill


change over previous year (negatives in brackets)


band "D" average bill

Band "D" average bill

Parish / community council precept

Major precepts

Local demand of billing authority

London Boroughs








Metropolitan Areas








Unitary Councils








English Shires








England (excluding London)








All England
















England & Wales














Great Britain






5.   The Government Spending Review has allocated a fund to help local authorities implement a council tax freeze in England in 2012/12.  Where an authority does not increase its basic amount of council tax, the grant will be the equivalent to a Band D increase of; police and fire 3%, City of London 2.75%, other authorities 2.5%.

6.   Following the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, local authorities setting a relevant basic amount of council tax above the following percentages in 2012/13 will be required to hold a referendum within their authority; police and fire 4%, City of London 3.75%, other authorities 3.5%

7.   These analyses are based on responses received from 66 per cent (229 authorities) of billing authorities (65 per cent in England and 77 per cent in Wales) and 97 per cent (83 authorities) of precepting authorities.  When all councils have set their budgets, (by 10 March) the final outcome is not expected to change significantly.

8.   Rounding errors, which sum to no more than one unit, may occur in the tables.

9.   Full survey results will be available at the end of March.  For advance copies telephone: 020 8667 1144 and ask for “Council Tax Demands & Precepts Statistics 2012-13”. Spreadsheet price £250.00 (+ VAT).

10.  This survey follows CIPFA’s Snapshot Budget Survey of local authority chief finance officers (CFO), investigating the scale of cutbacks in services that councils intended to make and CFO confidence in future finances. This budget survey suggests that CFOs are now more anxious about their ability to deliver services and maintain a sound financial position in the 2013/14 than they were twelve months ago.


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services.