The UK bills comparison

by Madaline Dunn

When analysing how expensive it might be to live somewhere, people often overlook factoring in council tax and bills, which can be pretty big extra expenses after rent.

Some locations will even see you forking out as much as £2,078 a year when it comes to council tax. Meanwhile, across the UK, annual utility bills can reach as high as £2,416. So, the cost of running a home can really add up!

So, just how expensive can expenses get, and where can you move to avoid these prices? At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through:

  • What council tax is and why it fluctuates
  • Which locations are the cheapest and most expensive for council tax
  • Where you can find the lowest utility bills
  • Where the most expensive utility bills are located

What is council tax, and why does it fluctuate?

Council tax is paid to your local council and is typically split into ten monthly payments. It goes towards everything from rubbish collection and transport to education services and leisure projects. How much you pay in council tax depends on where you live and the value of your home.

Interestingly, house prices don’t always correlate with council tax though. For example, although Westminster is home to some pretty pricey properties, it also has some of the lowest council tax rates in the UK. This is because these locations’ councils generate large amounts of revenue from alternative sources, such as through business rates and parking fees.

Of course, the locations with lower council tax rates also have fewer outgoings when it comes to expenses. This will largely be informed by the demographic of the area.

Raj Dosanjh, the founder of Rentround.com, commented: “There are multiple facets to how councils formulate how much Council Tax to charge residents, circling around other revenue incomes for the council. Westminster, for example, has an abundance of income from business rates.”

Adding: “Due to the busy high streets in the area, Westminster generated £2billion in business rates in 2019, 25 percent of London’s £8 billion total.”

There could be change on the horizon, though, with the Progressive Policy Think Tank making the case to scrap both council tax and stamp duty, replacing it with a “tax proportional to the value of the property itself.”

This reform, it says, would help to create a “fairer and more progressive” system and address “regional inequality, wealth inequality, and would ultimately build a stronger economy across the UK.”

Where are the cheapest and most expensive locations for council tax?

Council tax rates vary widely across the UK, and there’s a huge difference between living in Blaenau Gwent or Wandsworth.

The UK’s cheapest council tax can be found in:

  • Westminster: £828
  • Wandsworth: £845
  • Windsor & Maidenhead: £1,149
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar: £1,149
  • Hammersmith & Fulham: £1,196

In contrast, the most expensive council tax is located largely in Welsh boroughs. These include:

  • Blaenau Gwent: £2,078
  • Kingston-upon-Thames: £2,057
  • Merthyr Tydfil: £2,018
  • Neath Port Talbot: £1,996
  • Harrow: £1,962

Where can you find the cheapest utility bills?

By region, the lowest utility bills can be found:

  • Greater London: £775
  • South East England: £856
  • East of England: £873
  • North East: £904

The places with the cheapest average annual spend on utilities (including lighting, heating and hot water) per household include:

  • London: £775
  • Dartford: £782
  • Milton Keynes: £784
  • Manchester: £787
  • Rochester: £808

Where are the most expensive utility bills located?

Across the UK, the regions with the most expensive utility bills are:

  • Midlands East: £914
  • South West England: £919
  • North West: £948
  • West Midlands: £949
  • Yorkshire and the Humber: £978

The places with the most expensive average annual spend on utilities (including lighting, heating and hot water) per household include:

  • Dumfries and Galloway: £2416
  • Llandrindod Wells: £1311
  • Galashiels: £1181
  • Shrewsbury: £1157
  • Carlisle: £1140

Unfortunately, recent reports have revealed that energy bills are only on the up, too! By 1 October, the regulator, Ofgem’s price cap is set to increase by 12% to £1,277 a year for average use. If expert predictions are correct, this will surge to between £1,440 and £1,500 by spring 2022.

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Monday, September 27th, 2021 Economy No Comments

None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

How to claim mileage allowance when you’re self-employed

by Admin

If you use your own car for business, you may be able to claim a proportion of the actual total cost of buying and running your vehicle, including such things as insurance, repairs, servicing, fuel, etc. However, keeping track of every cost and working out the exact proportion of business use for your vehicle takes time and effort.

Instead, many self-employed people claim mileage allowance, a flat-rate scheme that provides a much simpler way to claim back the cost of using your own vehicle for business. Mileage allowance is part of a range of “simplified expenses” options that HMRC offers to self-employed people. They’re designed to make tax admin easier and quicker.

How much mileage allowance can you claim?

If you’re self-employed, you can claim a mileage allowance of:

  • 45p per business mile travelled in a car or van for the first 10,000 miles and
  • 25p per business mile thereafter
  • 24p a mile if you use your motorbike for business journeys.

If you travel with someone else who also works for your business, as the driver, you can claim an additional 5p per mile for each extra passenger. So, if three of you travel together, you can claim 45p + 10p per mile (two x 5p per mile for the two additional passengers) for the first 10,000 miles, then 25p + 10p per mile thereafter.

Need to know! Claiming mileage allowance doesn’t stop you claiming for other business travel expenses, such as train tickets and taxi rides. Parking tickets and toll fees while on business can also be claimed as a legitimate business expense.

When can’t mileage allowance be claimed?

You can’t claim mileage allowance for personal journeys, they must be made “wholly and exclusively for business purposes”. And neither can you claim mileage allowance for journeys to and from your usual place of work (ie your commercial business premises). You can claim for travel to a temporary workplace, for example, if you’re a plasterer who needs to travel to different sites and jobs.

Need to know! You cannot claim simplified expenses for a vehicle you’ve already claimed capital allowances for or one you’ve included as an expense when you worked out your business profits. Where necessary, seek guidance from an accountant.

Working out your business mileage

Logging your business mileage is a good idea, as it can make it far easier to later work out and claim your mileage allowance. And your claim is more likely to be accurate and credible if HMRC can see precise details of dates, miles travelled, journeys and reasons. HMRC can request proof during an investigation.

Manually recording your business mileage takes more time and effort, while scraps of paper and notebooks can go missing, so it’s better to record and store your mileage details in a spreadsheet/software, with data stored safely online. Many apps have been created to help business owners track and record their business travel mileage (some even use GPS to automatically measure business mileage).

Some self-employed business owners simply estimate their business mileage, by claiming for a percentage of their vehicle’s total annual mileage. So, if your car does 1,000 miles a month and you can show that half of that is for business use, you can claim mileage allowance of 6,000 miles a year (ie £2,700).

How to claim mileage allowance

Good accounting software will do all of the hard work for you, saving you lots of time and hassle. You enter your business mileage and it calculates your mileage allowance, which you enter into your Self-Assessment tax return. The amount is taken into account and your tax liability is reduced as a result.

If you use simplified expenses to claim mileage allowance, you cannot claim for motoring costs such as insurance, road tax or fuel, because these are accounted for within the mileage allowance.

Need to know! Deliberately inflating your mileage allowance claim can lead to penalties. HMRC takes a very dim view of anyone who deliberately enters false information into tax returns.

Further reading

Visit government website Gov.uk to read Travel – mileage and fuel rates and allowances. There is also an online tool that enables you to Check if simplified expenses could save your business money.

About GoSimpleTax

Income, Expenses and tax submission all in one. GoSimpleTax will provide you with tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you might have missed.

The software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for the self-employed, sole traders and anyone with income outside of PAYE to file their self-assessment giving hints and tips on savings along the way. GoSimpleTax does all the calculations for you so there is no need for an accountant. Available on desktop or mobile application.

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Wednesday, July 14th, 2021 Income Tax, Jobs No Comments

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