Council tax - frequently asked questions

Council tax - frequently asked questions

This page contains answers to the most commonly asked questions our council team are asked.

Council tax FAQs

This page helps give you extra information about council tax and what you need to do with your bill.

Why has my council tax increased and what is the adult social care precept?
The Northumberland County Council element of your council tax bill is made up of two amounts; an amount to fund general expenditure and an amount to be used solely for adult social care. For 2017-18 these charges for a Band D property are £1,484.98 and £73.09 respectively. 
 
The general council tax amount has been increased by 1.99% from last year. 
 
The adult social care element represents an additional flexibility offered by the Government to adult social care authorities in recognition of the demographic changes leading to growing demand for adult social care and the increasing pressure on council budgets. The charge first appeared on bills in 2016-17 when local authorities were offered a 2% flexibility to raise council tax above the referendum threshold for each of the years up to 2019-20. The Government has since announced that this additional flexibility would be raised to 3% for 2017-18 and 2018-19, although the overall increase could not be more than 6% over the three year period up to 2019-20. 
 
Northumberland County Council has taken up the option to raise the additional 3% for adult social care meaning that the overall total increase for Northumberland County Council in 2017-2018 is 4.99%.
 
The additional 3% flexibility in relation to adult social care is calculated on the total council tax charge for the previous year and not a 3% increase on the previous year's adult social care precept. For example, the total NCC council tax charge for a Band D property in 2016-17 was £1,484.56 (made up of a general charge of £1,456.01 and an adult social care charge of £28.55) so the 3% charge for adult social care in 2017-18 will be £44.54. The overall charge for 2017-18 is a cumulative figure so the £44.54 is added to the 2016-17 charge of £28.55 to give a total charge for 2017-18 of £73.09.
 
Both the general council tax and the adult social care amounts for Northumberland County Council for 2016-17 and 2017-18 are shown below:
 
  2016-17 2017-18
Band NCC ASC Total NCC ASC Total
A 970.67 19.04 989.71 989.99 48.73 1,038.72
B 1,132.45 22.21 1,154.66 1,154.98 56.85 1,211.83
C 1,294.23 25.38 1,319.61 1,319.98 64.97 1,384.95
D 1,456.01 28.55 1,484.56 1,484.98 73.09 1,558.07
E 1,779.56 34.90 1,814.46 1,814.98 89.33 1,904.31
F 2,103.12 41.24 2,144.36 2,144.97 105.57 2,250.54
G 2,426.67 47.59 2,474.26 2,474.97 121.82 2,596.79
H 2,912.01 57.11 2,969.12 2,969.96 146.18 3,116.14
 
 
What is a parish precept and why has it gone up?
Parish and town councils can raise revenue to help meet their spending requirements by issuing a precept. This is the total amount raised through council tax from all the domestic properties within the parish area.

The 'precept' is converted into an amount per council tax band and added onto the council tax bill. For details on what this money is used for in your parish, please contact your parish clerk here.
Why have you sent me this bill?
If you have been sent a bill, it means we think you are responsible for paying council tax on the property detailed. If you don’t think you should be paying council tax on this property contact us by:
I have received a bill but have recently notified you of a change in my circumstances. What should I do?
We try to complete changes as soon as possible but during busy periods it can take up to 21 days. Once the information has been received, an amended bill will be sent to you in due course.

Until you receive this, you should pay the instalments shown on your most recent bill. We will refund any overpayments. If you cannot afford these payments, please contact us by:
Why is there a barcode on my bill?
Customers can pay their bill free of charge at any post office or pay point outlet using the barcode on their bill.
What is the unlock code on my bill for?
We are now offering a new service where customers can sign up to My Northumberland Account. This will allow you to have your future council tax bills sent electronically. You will be able to access your council tax account where you can view your instalments, payments and check your balance.

To register please visit www.northumberland.gov.uk then click on the My Account link at the top of the home page where you will need to register your details.  An activation code will then be sent to your registered e-mail which you will need to enter to complete the registration.  Once registered you can add your council tax account using your council tax account number and unlock code on your bill.
 
I think I am in the wrong council tax band. How do I appeal?
Taxpayers have the right to appeal against their council tax band by contacting the valuation office here or by telephone 03000 501501. In the meantime, you must pay the amount due on your bill. 
I have an outstanding balance from 2016 on my new bill for 2017-2018, but have paid it?
The council tax bills were processed after the cash payments on 23 February 2017 and after the direct debit payments on 1 March 2017.  If you have made a payment after this date it won't be shown on your bill.

If you require confirmation your payment has been received, please contact customer services on 0345 600 6400 or email counciltax@northumberland.gov.uk.
What does my council tax pay for?
Council tax funds all the services provided by Northumberland County Council, the police authority and local parish and town councils.
 
I pay by direct debit. Do I need to complete a new mandate?
You do not need to complete a new form. Your bill will state the method of payment. If this is direct debit, payment will be automatic. If it doesn’t state this, please view here for more information.
How can I pay my bill?
We offer 10 or 12-monthly instalments in a full financial year. Each instalment is due on the 1st of each month – except for bills paid by direct debit where payment on the 15th and 28th of the month is also available.

If you receive a bill during the financial year, we will offer as many instalments as there are left in that year.
I want to pay over 12 months?
The option to pay over 12 months for council tax and business rates is now available.
I wish to pay weekly. How can I arrange this?
You can pay weekly as long as you are in advance of your instalment plan. You should aim to have each instalment paid by the 7th of each month to avoid a reminder being issued. This is the customer’s duty to set up and maintain, and you won’t need to notify the council tax section.
There is a special expense showing on my bill. What is it?
We recover an element of council tax via special expenses when we provide a service in an area the town council or parish provide in other areas.

The cost of this has to be met by the council taxpayers of the town or parish where we provide the service. For 2017/18, Northumberland County Council has applied special expenses to one parish.
 
Parish 2017-2018  
  £:p  
North Sunderland 3,054.00 Play area inspection and maintenace
     
  3,054.00  
What do I do if I think the bill is wrong?
If you think your bill is wrong, please contact us. In the meantime you must pay the amount on your most recent bill:
I have not received my new bill?
Your bill may not have been issued if there has been a change in circumstances to process. If you have a query, please contact us by:
What if I own a holiday home or run a bed & breakfast?
Holiday home
You will have to pay either council tax or business rates. This depends on how many days per year it is available for let to other people:
  • If available for less than 140 days per year, you will pay council tax for the property as a second home.
  • If available for 140 days or more per year, you will pay business rates for it.
Bed & breakfast
The valuation office will decide whether you pay council tax or business rates. This will be based on how many people the bed & breakfast caters for and whether this is the primary use of the property.

For further information, contact us on 0345 600 6400 or visit GOV.UK.
I am moving house, what do I do?
If you are moving house, you will need to contact the council and provide us with this important information. You may be entitled to a refund if you are moving out of Northumberland.

To register a change of address, please phone the contact centre on 0345 600 6400, or download and complete a change of circumstances form and send to:

Council Tax Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
Am I entitled to any discounts, or is my property eligible for an exemption?
A range of discounts and exemptions are available based on your personal circumstances. Please visit the discounts and exemption page for more information.
Do second homes qualify for a discount?
No. From 1 April 2013 second homes no longer qualify for a 10% discount.
What is the empty homes premium?
With effect from 1 April 2013, if a property has been unfurnished and substantially unoccupied for more than two years, an empty homes premium may apply. This is an extra 50% charge, meaning customers who are charged a premium will pay the equivalent of 150% charge.
Have there been any changes to the classes of exemption?
There are no longer exemptions for unoccupied and unfurnished properties, and where a property requires or is undergoing major repairs. Please visit the discounts and exemption section for more information.
What if I have trouble paying my bill?
If you are having trouble paying your council tax bill, contact us immediately on 0345 600 6400 and we will do all we can to help you.
What if I do not pay?
If you miss a council tax instalment, you will receive a reminder notice. This gives you seven days to pay the outstanding amount. If you do not pay this amount, the full annual charge will need to be paid. If it is not paid within a further seven days, formal recovery action will be taken.

You will only receive two reminders within a financial year. On the third missed payment, a final notice will be issued. This will demand the remainder of the year’s charge and removes your right to pay by instalments.
Do you have the facility for online billing?
We are now offering a new service where customers can sign up to My Northumberland Account. This will allow you to have your future council tax bills sent electronically. You will be able to access your council tax account where you can view your instalments, payments and check your balance.

Click here register for My Account 

An activation code will then be sent to your registered e-mail which you will need to enter to complete the registration.

Once registered you can add your council tax account using your council tax account number and unlock code on your bill.
 
Your website does not answer my question
If you have any suggestions regarding information you would find useful on our council tax web pages, please email QualityAssurance@northumberland.gov.uk. Otherwise, please contact us by: