living costs

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.

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