Throughout England, most areas have a two-tier local government system that includes the County Council and the District or Local Council. Each tier of government is responsible for planning and organising certain things. Some locations, such as London, only have a one-tier government who is responsible for all of the policy making and organising. Local Council Taxes are collected to help offset the costs of planning and organising these functions. Since nearly everyone is required to pay their local Council Tax, it is important that you understand how this system works and where your tax money is used.
The County Council is responsible for a wide range of functions, such as education, public safety including fire and police, transportation and parking, social care for its residents, libraries, and waste management. The District Council, on the other hand, is responsible for more localised issues, such as garbage collections, recycling, zoning issues and collection of council taxes. Local Councils are responsible only for things that affect their local area, such as bus shelters, playgrounds, community centres, and dog ordinances. With a one-tier government, just one entity regulates everything.
Council members are elected officials who are voted on by those living within their specific district. Council members hold four-year terms, but can be re-elected. The entire council makes the decisions for its community by voting on different issues. These meetings are opened to the public, and the council must also post minutes from the meeting online within five working days. This allows all residents to be notified of any changes to the law or any new programs being offered by the local council. You also have the right to view the local budget for your area to see where the council is spending your tax dollars.
Council Taxes and Reductions
You will be required to pay council taxes if you own or rent a home in the area. The amount of taxes you owe will depend on the value of the home you live in and the rate your specific council charges. Typically, you will pay this tax over the course of ten months, but if you have trouble making these payments you may be able to have your amount reduced and paid once every twelve months instead. Since taxes are based on two adults living in each home, you may be eligible to a 25 per cent discount if you are single. You may also be eligible for an additional reduction in the amount of taxes you owe if you own a second home or your home in under construction.
If you are low-income, a full-time student or a senior, you may also be eligible for additional tax reductions and benefits to lower the amount of taxes you owe for the year. Depending on your specific set of circumstances and your locality, you may be eligible for up to a 100 per cent discount on your Council Tax. You must check with your specific local council to see what benefits and exemptions are available in your area.
It is important that you learn about your local council and keep up-to-date with the rules and regulations they implement or special programs they create. You should plan to either attend a local council meeting or go online and read through their monthly council minutes. You can also file a complaint if your feel the council has not properly delivered the services you require in your local area.