Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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Council Tax Frequently Asked Questions


Council Tax Frequently Asked Questions 2020/2021
You will find listed below some of the most popular questions that we get asked about Council Tax.


What is the overall Council Tax increase for 2020/2021?

The overall Council Tax increase for Stockton is 3.9%. Taking into account the Fire, Police and any parish precepts, the overall percentage increase in your bill may be slightly different.


Why has the Council increased Council Tax?

The Council recognises that many people in the borough face difficulties and so sought to limit the increase. For more detailed information please refer to the Budget Statement included on our Information to support your Council Tax Bill webpage.


Why is the Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council % change in the charge different from the total overall % change?

Each individual element of the charge is shown separately, and the % changes are calculated comparing the difference between last year and this year’s charge.


Why is the overall % change for Parishes, Fire and Police different from the total % change?

Again, the parish, fire and police % change is the difference between this and last year’s precept changes. The overall total % change is the difference between the total Council Tax charge comprising of all the individual elements making up the charge for both this and last year rounded to one decimal place.


Are other Councils increasing their Council Tax?

Each Council will decide separately on the level of Council Tax that is appropriate for their area.


My bill shows an Adult Social Care Levy what is this?
In 2015 the Government created the Adult Social Care Precept, which allowed Councils such as Stockton which provide social care to adults to increase their Council Tax by up to an extra 2%.

In 2016 the Government announced that for three years from 2017/18 to 2019/20 Councils would be allowed to increase this by up to 3% in any given year, but no more than 6% in total over those years. Stockton decided to increase the Adult Social Care precept element of Council Tax by 3% in both 2017/18 and 2018/19 with no increase in 2019/20.

Government legislation specifies the way that the Adult Social Care Levy is calculated and how it must be shown on the bill. The amount of any precept charged in previous years along with the amount for the current year must be displayed separately from the Council Tax charge attributable to Stockton.

For this year 2020/21, there is increase of 2%. If you would like further clarification regarding the calculation or the way the precept is shown on the bill please refer to the GOV.UK website.

The income generated from this charge is ring-fenced, meaning it can only be used for adult social care services.

 

There are Police and Fire precepts showing on my bill what are they?
Every year, some of your Council Tax bill goes towards the funding of both the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and the Cleveland Fire Authority. The precepts are an integral part of your bill and legislation does not permit you to opt out of part of the bill, the Council has no influence over the charges that the Police and Fire Authorities levy.

View more information in relation to the Police and Fire precepts.

There are Town Council /Parish precepts showing on my bill what are they?
Both Town and Parish Councils are independent from Stockton Council and are responsible for their own financial affairs and calculate their precepts in accordance with legislation. The Council collects the precepts on the behalf of the Parish or Town Council.

If you contact your Town or Parish council they should be able to provide you with details of their budget requirements for the forthcoming year.


What are the Council’s budget requirements for 2020/2021?

View the Stockton Council Financial information leaflet.


What are this year’s Council Tax charges?

Please see council tax charges for the current financial year for a full breakdown


What Council services do we pay our Council Tax for?

The Council Tax is a charge for all services provided for the benefit of both residents and visitors to the borough and is not calculated on the basis of which services you receive or use. The services that Council Tax supports are detailed within the financial information leaflet.


Can I change the date I pay my instalments?

Yes, if you change to direct debit you can chose to pay on the 1, 5, 15 or 28 of the month. For all other payment methods you should pay as billed. Please contact us on 01642 397108 to set up a Direct Debit, remember to have your bank details and Council Tax account number available.


My instalments are spread over ten months is it possible to pay them over twelve?

Usually, your Council Tax bill is split into ten monthly payments (instalments) payable from April to January. If you would like to change to 12 monthly instalments please complete our online form on the Your Council Tax Account page.


Can I pay my instalments either weekly or fortnightly?

Normally, your Council Tax bill is paid by monthly instalments, however if you would prefer to pay weekly or fortnightly please complete our online form on the Your Council Tax Account page.


I think I am paying by Direct Debit, the bill isn’t very clear?

At the bottom of your bill you will see a box detailing your payment instructions. If you are paying by direct debit it will say “the instalments shown below will be collected by direct debit” Direct debit continues from year to year unless it has been cancelled.

Some customers choose to pay by standing order, which should not be confused with direct debit. You will need to contact your bank to pay by this method and the payment instruction will need to be renewed or amended each time you receive a new or amended bill.


I am on a low income/benefits, can I get help paying 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 Council Tax bill. For more information please contact 01642 393829.


I haven’t got any Council Tax Support showing on my account

If you are entitled to Council Tax Support it will be showing on your account. You should have received your notification of entitlement letter from the Revenues & Benefits Service at the same time as your bill. Please contact us 01642 393829 if you have a query about your claim.


Can I manage my account online and receive my bill electronically?

Yes, please register with us.


Why does my bill state that I have a balance outstanding for this year, I know I have already paid it?

The balance shown on your bill is calculated to the 26 February 2020, this is the date that we closed our system to produce over 86,000 Council Tax bills. If you have paid this amount since this date, or you have an arrangement in place to pay a further payment, this will not have been taken into account.


What do I do if I think my Council Tax Band is wrong?

Please check our Council Tax Further Information leaflet that was included with your bill for more details. However, if you still think your band is wrong please contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) or call 0300 501 501.


Why does my name/my partners name appear first on the bill?

There is no rule as to whose name appears first on the bill. All persons named on the bill are jointly and severally liable to pay the amount due.


Why am I being charged 150% for my empty property?

From 1 April 2013, properties that are unoccupied and unfurnished are charged 150% after remaining empty for two years. Please note this charge is based on the property and will come into effect after two years even if you haven’t owned the property for that long.


I have moved, how do I let you know?

Complete our online change of address form.


My circumstances have changed what do I do?

Complete our online change of circumstances form.


How do I apply for a Council Tax discount, reduction or exemption?

A list of discounts, exemptions and discounts can be found on our Council Tax discounts, reductions and exemptions webpage.