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Council Tax and Budget FAQ

Why is my council tax so much?/ Are we in Neath Port Talbot paying higher council tax than anywhere else?

Whilst Neath Port Talbot has the third highest Band D council tax in Wales, in reality the average council tax in Neath Port Talbot is the 16th lowest in Wales. The reason for this is that 80% of properties in the county borough actually pay less than the Band D amount as they are within Bands A-C.

In England, the band a property falls into is based on 1991 values and the top band H in England begins at a value of £320,000. So someone who lives in a Band A studio flat in Marylebone in central London valued at £40,000 in 1991 but now worth about £950,000 will pay just over £520 a year.

In Wales, revised property values were introduced in 2003. It has been an ongoing issue for a number of years and elected Members have continued to lobby the Welsh Government to address it. We are pleased to see that council tax reform is included in the ‘Co-operation Agreement’; to reform one of the most regressive forms of taxation, which disproportionately affects poorer areas of Wales.

How is my council tax banded?

Council tax is charged to the household. It is based on the value of the property and not on what the household earns. So, the amount of council tax you pay depends on which property band your home is in. Check your council tax band.

What does my council tax pay for?

The council tax you pay is not calculated on the basis of which services you actually receive or use, but it contributes to the budget the council needs to provide hundreds of different services to the residents of the county borough. Your council tax contributes around 25% to the total council budget. Find out more how the council budget is made up.

Some of these services are highly visible, such as waste collection, road maintenance, libraries and schools. Other services often go unseen, such as providing foster care for children, caring for older and vulnerable people, carrying out food hygiene inspections, a contribution to the Mid & West Wales Fire Service, and providing education for children with special needs.

You can see where your council tax goes.

Who decides how my council tax is spent?

Decisions around the council’s budget are agreed annually by the council’s Cabinet. Find out more regarding the Cabinet.

Can I influence how my council tax is spent?

Every year there is a consultation on the council’s budget proposals before the final budget is set. People living and working in Neath Port Talbot are asked to indicate whether they agree or disagree with a set of draft budget proposals and invited to give their views on anything else the council should consider.

Feedback from this annual budget consultation is then considered by officers and elected members, and changes to the proposals might be made to the final budget in light of this feedback.

How does my council tax directly affect my local area? Does it fund community councils and their activity?

The council collects money on behalf of your local community council (if you have one) as part of the annual council tax bill.

Is council tax used to pay for the running costs of the council or does it all go directly into front line services?

Council tax funds just under 25% of the total cost of running the council some of which relates to administration but the vast majority is spent on front line services.  More information: Where council tax goes.

Why do I pay more than someone who lives just a mile down the road?

Council tax is charged to the household, based on the value of the property and not on what the household earns. So, the amount of council tax you pay depends on which property band your home is in. Check your council tax band.

Does council tax keep in step with inflation?

Council tax doesn’t rise in line with inflation although inflation does have an impact on the council’s costs every year.

How can I get involved in the council?

There are a number of ways you can take a more active part in council business. Here are some of them:

  1. Register to vote and use your vote in elections. Voting is an important way for local people to make their voice heard and influence the priorities and decisions that affect their communities. The next Local Government and Community/Town Council Elections in Wales will take place on Thursday 5 May 2022
  2. Become a councillor – Find key information if you are interested in standing for election.
  3. Take part in consultations – the council values the views of everyone in the county borough and your feedback matters. We undertake regular engagement campaigns and consultations to get feedback on proposals, plans and policies. There are two ways to get involved:
  4. Attend council meetings as part of our virtual public gallery – you can view past meetings or observe future meetings live via Microsoft Teams by pre-registering to be part of the virtual public gallery.

There are charges for Police showing on my bill what are they?

In addition to collecting the council tax required to run council services, the bill you receive also contains an element to pay for the Police and for your local community council (if you have one). The Council simply works as a collecting agent for the police and has no control over how much is charged.

I am on a low income/benefits, can I get help to pay my council tax?

If you are on a low income or getting benefits including Universal Credit, you may be entitled to Council Tax Support. Council Tax Support is applied to your council tax account and will reduce your bill.  Find more information on help to reduce your bill.

There are links to other sources of help and information on Debt Advice and Advice and support if you're struggling to make ends meet

How is the council funded?

Before the start of each financial year, the council sets a budget for its day-to-day expenditure - the revenue budget.

Around 75% comes from the Welsh Government with the remaining balance funded by residents through council tax.

The council is required by law to set a balanced budget, which means the expenditure cannot be more than the council’s income. Read more about the council’s revenue budget and how it is spent.

Capital expenditure

The council places great emphasis on the importance of capital investment as a means to regenerate our communities. This does not only lead to improved facilities and services but creates jobs and economic benefits for local people.

The money for capital investment comes from Welsh Government’s capital funding programme, from capital receipts and prudential borrowing.

The council also bids for other external sources of funding. This type of funding can usually only be used for specific purposes. It is funding for example to help us realise our regeneration aspirations across the county borough and money for improvement projects in our communities that would otherwise never happen.

An example of this type of funding is the Welsh Government's 21st Century Schools Band B programme where the Welsh Government funds 65% of the cost of any investment with the remaining 35% being funded by the council. Read more about the council’s Capital Programme.

How much income does the council generate from its own commercial assets/activities and what percentage of the overall budget does that represent?

The council generates around £50m of income from various sources, which is around 15% of its overall budget.

How often do you review department budgets?

Departmental budgets are reviewed as part of the annual budget setting process.