Talking Politics: Is your home in the right band?

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I know a lot of hard working people who are on limited budgets, and who have pressures on their finances, are now being approached by companies offering to reduce the amount of Council Tax they pay and say they can get a refund on previous year’s payments for a small fee.

This sounds too good to be true, as we all know no one likes to pay Council Tax, even though it is the only tax you can really have a say in what you pay and get for it. Unlike income tax, National Insurance and VAT, the Council Tax is raised locally. I know we have had a freeze on the rise over the last two years, and it did go up this year, by about 1.9%. This rise does not cover the inflation rise that the country has had. Yet think of what your Council Tax provides for you - like schools, environmental health, social services, and many other services that are close to your everyday life. 
These companies say, “You may be in the wrong band.” If you are you can find out free of charge and if you are due a rebate it will be given to you without question. The way that Council Tax was set up was a bit ad hoc where we had estate agents going round in cars looking at properties saying “this one Band C, this one Band D,” etc, etc.

If you would like to know if your neighbours are in the same band as you, or paying more or less, then it’s easy to find out. You don’t have to give your name, or address, just your postcode for the area you live in. And you can get the information straight away. If you are in a different band, for the same type of property, you can then apply for a re-banding, and possibly a refund on past years payments.

This service, as I have said, is completely free to you. The website you can go on is: www.voa.gov.uk/corporate/CouncilTax - they will ask for your post code and you will see if you are in the right band. If you do not have access to the web, then you can ring 03000 501501, and a person at the Valuation Office Agency will talk you through the procedure in total confidence. So there is no need to worry at this stage about paying more. Don’t let these vultures rip you off, by charging you a fee for something you are already paying for!