What is council tax and who pays?
The council tax set by Argyll and Bute Council is a contribution towards council services which is payable on domestic properties. From 1 April 2017, the Council Tax banding proportions were changed by the Scottish Government. Charges increased for bands E to H as a result. Some low income households may be protected from this through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
Council tax is paid by
- The occupier (whether privately owned or rented)
- Sub-tenant occupier
- Owner (where property is unoccupied)
Married and unmarried couples living together are jointly and severally liable for payment of council tax and other charges as are joint owners and tenants.
|Band||Council Tax (£)||Water (£)||Sewerage (£)||Total Scottish Water||Total Payable 2023/24 (£)|
Water and sewerage charges
Argyll and Bute Council is not responsible for setting these charges but is required by law to include these charges in the council tax bill. The level of the charges is set by the Water Authority and is subject to scrutiny by the Water Industry Commissioner and the Scottish Government. The water and sewerage banding proportions remain unchanged. Water and Sewerage charges are available online at www.scottishwater.co.uk/unmeteredcharges Water and sewerage charges are not included in your bill if you have a metered or private water supply and are connected to a private septic tank. Please contact the Council’s Customer Service Centreon 01546 605511 if you believe you are wrongly charged for water and sewerage.
If you have a question
The council’s website has many council tax and benefit related resources that are available 24/7 (https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/benefits-and-council-tax). We also have Customer Service Points and a telephony Customer Service Centre if you cannot find what you need online or need to speak to us about a complex matter.
Below is a list of our Customer Service Points, and some useful contact numbers:
Service Points are open in the morning for walk in customers between 9am and 12 noon, except Tiree which is open in the afternoon from 13.30 to 4.15pm. Service Points can be found here:
- Campbeltown - Burnet Building, St John Street
- Dunoon - Ellis Lodge, 5 Argyll Road
- Helensburgh - 38 East Clyde Street
- Islay - Jamieson Street, Bowmore
- Lochgilphead - Manse Brae
- Mull - Breadalbane Street, Tobermory
- Oban - Municipal Building, Albany Street
- Bute - Eaglesham House, Mount Pleasant Road, Rothesay
- Colonsay - Colonsay Village Hall, Scalasaig
- Jura - Craighouse Old School House
- Tiree - The Business Centre, Crossapol
Only cashless card payments can be made at Service Points, which no longer have cash handling facilities. Cash payments can be made at local Paypoints and Post Offices.
Payments Line - 01546 605515 (automated service available 24/7 for card payments).
Council Tax Enquiry Line - 01546 605511. (9am-5pm, Monday – Friday)
CTRS / Benefit Enquiry Line - 01546 605512. (9am-5pm, Monday – Friday)
Discounts, exemptions, relief and double charge
A 25% discount on council tax and water charges may be granted if there is only one adult (aged 18 years or over) resident in the property. A status discount on council tax and water charges may be available to households where all or some of the adult residents are disregarded e.g. full time students, care leavers up to the age of 26, student nurses, apprentices, youth trainees, people receiving long-term residential care, severely mentally impaired and persons in detention. The Water Charges Reduction Scheme provides a reduction of up to 35% automatically to households in receipt of council tax reduction with two or more resident adults who are not already in receipt of status discounts.
Second homes and long term unoccupied properties
A second home is a property which is no one’s sole or main residence, but which is furnished and lived in for 25 days or more in a rolling 12 month period. If your property was not lived in for at least 25 days in the last 12 months, then it must be classified as an unoccupied property rather than as a second home.
Second home discount
A decision was made by the Council on 27 October 2016 to exercise its discretion under Regulation 4 The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 to vary the council tax charge on second homes such that no discount applies across the whole of the council area.
For unoccupied properties after a certain period, double council tax will apply. An unoccupied and unfurnished property which is not being actively marketed for sale or let will be eligible for 6 months exemption from council tax from the date last occupied (or from date first entered onto the council tax register for a new build property), followed by 10% discount for 6 months, followed by double the full charge after 12 months. If it is being actively marketed for sale or let, then the period of 10% discount is extended to 18 months before the double charge applies. Contact 01546 605511 for further details of the restricted circumstances where this applies.
A 50% discount is available for purpose built holiday homes incapable of habitation throughout the year and for job-related properties for an unlimited time period. It is also available for properties under repair for 6 months from date of purchase if these properties are not eligible for exemption as more than 12 months has elapsed since the property was last occupied. These discounts do not apply to water charges.
Occupied dwellings may qualify to be exempt where: all the occupants are students, under the age of 18 or care leavers up to the age of 26, the property is owned by a housing body and is used as trial accommodation for sheltered housing tenants, or all the occupants are severely mentally impaired.
Unoccupied premises may qualify to be treated as exempt where the property: has recently been built, or is under reconstruction, is uninhabitable or is awaiting demolition; is undergoing major repair work or structural alteration (available for up to12 months from the date the property was last occupied); is unfurnished (up to six months); or is empty due to death of occupant. Other categories of exemption available are listed on the website.
Relief for Persons with Disabilities
The council tax on a property in which a disabled person lives and in which there are special features or facilities required to meet the disabled person's needs is charged at the next lower valuation band. Band A properties will receive a reduction of the same proportion of the bill.
Changes in circumstances
If you are in receipt of any of the above discounts, exemptions and relief and your circumstances change, you must tell us right away. If you do not tell us, you could be fined £50 for the first time and £200 for subsequent occasions.
How to pay council tax
Payment of council tax is due in ten consecutive monthly instalments commencing on 1st April. Direct debit payers have a choice of instalment date of the 1st or 15th of each month or weekly on a Thursday. We recommend direct debit as the most efficient and effective means of paying council tax. All other payers must pay on 1st of the month.
A twelve monthly instalment plan is now available for any new Direct Debit customers.
Do it by direct debit; the convenient way to never miss a payment
Who can pay by direct debit?
If you have a bank or building society account you should be able to pay by direct debit.
How do I make direct debit payments?
Call the Customer Service Centre on 01546 605511 and press 2 to set up a direct debit. This is an automated service that is available 24/7. Alternatively you can complete the direct debit instruction enclosed with your bill.
What are the benefits?
- No need to travel to pay or stand in a queue.
- Payments are deducted automatically.
- All payments are covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee.
- If circumstances change, payers are notified in advance of changes to amount due.
Existing direct debit payers
Taxpayers already paying by this method need take no further action, as instalments will be collected automatically as detailed on the council tax bill, unless they wish to change their instalment from the 1st to the 15th of the month or vice versa or switch to weekly direct debits.
Other payment methods
You can pay online using a debit or credit card at any time of the day or night by logging on to www.argyll-bute.gov.uk and clicking the Online Services ‘Pay It’ link. Or you can call the Payments Line on 01546 605515 (automated service available 24/7 for card payments).
Council tax payers who pay by standing order should advise their bank to amend payments to reflect the new monthly instalment detailed on their bill.
Payments by post to Argyll and Bute Council, Financial Services, Kintyre House, Snipefield Industrial Estate, Drumore, Campbeltown PA28 6SY. You must include your account number with your remittance. Cheques should be made payable to Argyll and Bute Council.
You can also pay using your Council Tax Payment Card at any Post Office or Pay Point outlet. Please note any monies paid with your card will be credited to the current year. Council Tax Payment Cards already issued should continue to be used. You will receive a new card if you change address.
Please note you are no longer able to pay your Council Tax in cash at Customer Service Points.
What happens if you do not pay
If you fail to pay any part of any instalment by the date it is due, we will send you a reminder for the amount of the unpaid instalment. You must pay this within seven days. If you fail to pay the amount shown on the reminder within seven days, you will lose the right to pay by instalments. You will have to pay the full outstanding balance within another seven days. If you fail to pay the full outstanding balance within 14 days of this date (and within 28 days of the date of original reminder), we will apply for a Summary Warrant (a legal document that allows us to add 10% to the amount you already owe and to ask a Sheriff to take legal action against you). We will add this 10% to your account. We can only issue two reminders within any financial year. If you fail to pay the second reminder within seven days, we may immediately apply for a Summary Warrant.
Summary Warrant action can lead to:
- you being asked for details of your employment and bank accounts
- your earnings and bank accounts being arrested
- deductions being made from your Income Support or Jobseekers allowance
- Sheriff Officers being involved in the recovery process
If you are having difficulty in paying your Council Tax, please contact us at the earliest opportunity before we take court action. We may be able to agree an alternative repayment plan or assist you with obtaining a council tax reduction through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
Accuracy of information provided
Details of and advice on discounts, exemptions and relief can be obtained on the council website or from the Customer Service Centre and Service Points. If you are in receipt of any Council Tax discounts, exemptions and reliefs and your circumstances change, you must tell us right away. If you do not tell us, you will face a £50 penalty being added to your council tax charge for a first offence and £200 for subsequent occasions.
Failure to provide information as to the occupancy of your property, or failure to correct an assumption about the occupancy of your property, will result in a £500 penalty being added to your council tax charge.
If you have recently purchased your property, you may have a legal right of appeal if you disagree with your valuation band. This should be discussed with the Assessor at Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute Valuation Joint Board, Kilbrannan House, Bolgam Street, Campbeltown PA28 6HZ or 235 Dumbarton Road, Clydebank G81 4XJ.
Appeals, if you disagree with the decision to hold you liable to pay Council Tax or with the calculation of your bill, should be made in writing, within 28 days of receiving your bill, to Argyll and Bute Council, Financial Services, Kintyre House, Snipefield Industrial Estate, Campbeltown PA28 6SY.
Should you disagree with the Council’s decision, then you have the right to appeal within 4 months of the date of your initial query. The Local Taxation Chamber has taken over from the Valuation Appeals Committee from 1st April 2023 and will hear Council Tax appeals on who is liable to pay Council Tax; the calculation of Council Tax and whether or not a property should be classed as a chargeable dwelling.
An application for an appeal should be made directly by the individual applicant or their representative in writing to the Local Taxation Chamber, First Floor, Bothwell House, Hamilton Business Park, Caird Park, Hamilton, ML3QA. Further information, including application forms, are available via the Local Taxation Chamber’s website or by telephoning 01698 390012 or emailing LTCAdmin@scotcourtstribunals.gov.uk
Even if you make an appeal you must continue to pay your Council Tax. If your appeal is successful, any overpaid Council Tax will be refunded or transferred to reduce any other outstanding debt to Argyll and Bute Council.
Council Tax Reduction Scheme
The Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) is a discount to Council Tax payable. The national scheme is set out in The Council Tax Reduction (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and The Council Tax Reduction (State Pension Credit) (Scotland) Regulations 2012. The amount of CTRS reduction is designed to be broadly equivalent to the amount of Council Tax Benefit previously granted, and applications can be made to the council in the same way but there will no longer be passported applications from DWP.
The maximum amount of CTRS is 100% of the Council Tax charge excluding water and sewerage. If you have assets over £16,000 you will not quality for CTRS. If you do not qualify but someone in your household is on a low income, a second adult rebate of up to 25% may be available. If you receive CTRS, you will be automatically awarded a water and sewerage reduction of up to 35%.
If you are in council tax bands E to H you may be eligible for protection from the council tax banding increases. Single person households with a net income of up to £16,750, and all other households with net income of up to £25,000 and less than £16,000 in savings, are eligible to apply for a full exemption from the increase in these charges through the council tax reduction scheme.
If you are not sure if you will qualify for CTRS, use the Government online calculator: https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators. To find out more and download an application form visit: www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/welfare-reform/council-tax-reduction-scheme. Alternatively you can call 01546-605512 for assistance.
If you have been granted a council tax reduction
Changes in circumstances
Council Tax Reduction is a means tested benefit. You must inform us of any changes in your circumstances that could affect your entitlement to Council Tax Reduction and Water Charges Reduction which will in turn affect the amount of council tax you have to pay. Tell us if you move home, you or your partner’s income (including benefits) goes up or down, you or your partner start or stop work, anyone leaves or joins your household, any changes to your savings or your partner’s savings, any changes to the income or capital of any non-dependants in your household.
Changes in circumstances that may affect your entitlement must be advised immediately. To do so call the Customer Service Centre CTRS and Benefit Enquiry Line on 01546 605512 or have a face to face meeting at one of our Customer Service Points which are listed above.
Right of Appeal
If you do not agree with the amount of Council Tax Reduction you have been awarded, you can ask for an internal review. If still not satisfied, you have a further right of appeal to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.
The council has a formal complaints procedure. You can obtain complaint forms from any of our Customer Service Points or you can call the Complaints Line on 01546 605516.
Manage Your Council Tax and Benefits Conveniently Online
The council has a secure Council Tax and Benefit portal that allows you to see:
- Your Council Tax account
- Any balance due
- Your instalment plan
- Previous payments
- Any Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction you receive
- Copies of your Council Tax bills, Housing Benefit award letters, etc.
- You can also apply for Council Tax single person discount, empty home discount and report a change in circumstances which could affect your benefit.
- You can sign up for paperless billing – the convenient and environmentally friendly way.
To sign up for the new online portal visit https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/myaccount-register and then select “Register”. This takes you to an authentication service for security and from there you can sign up to the portal. There is a useful video with full instructions on how to sign up. You will need your 10 digit council tax account number which is on your enclosed Council Tax bill. Don’t forget to sign up to e-Billing too!
The council is now offering all of our online services through a single login using the national MyAccount authentication. The Council Tax and Benefits portal is just the latest in the range of personalised services on MyAccount, https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/myaccount-register including your bin collection days, tracking service enquiries and bookmarking of pages on the Council website.
Save time, help save us money – Go Digital!
The Council approved a balanced budget for 2023-24 at the Council’s budget meeting held on 23 February 2023. The Council’s revenue funding for 2023-24 is £283.018m. This compares to the funding for 2022-23 (at the time of setting the 2022-23 budget) of £265.293m, an increase of £17.725m. This results from additional Scottish Government funding and a 5% inflationary uplift to Council Tax charges. There are increases in 2023-24 funding that require to be transferred to the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).
The majority of the increase in Scottish Government funding is attached to policy commitments that have a corresponding cost. The Council also has other significant cost increases most notably around pay and other inflation and as a result the Council has a requirement to make savings to balance the budget.
The net expenditure on services has increased by £21.723m between 2022-23 and 2023-24 as shown on the calculation of council tax table. The significant changes across the Council are noted below:
- Increase of £12.743m in employee costs relating to pay inflation and pay increments for 2022-23, which was agreed after the budget for 2022-23 was set, and the subsequent impact and estimated increase for the 2023-24 financial year.
- Allowance for unavoidable/inescapable inflationary increases of £4.355m.
- New cost and demand pressures amounting to just over £4.429m.
- An increase of over £7.248m towards the HSCP in line with the additional monies allocated by Scottish Government.
- New policy savings options that were agreed as part of the year’s budget amounting to £6.464m.
- Further management/operational savings identified which have no policy implications amounting to over £2.962m.
- A small inflationary increase to fees and charges which is estimated to bring in around £0.838m additional income.
At service level the larger variations from 2023-24 are explained as follows:
- The increase within Education Services mainly relates to increased staff costs due to pay awards and inflationary pressures, the largest of which being Pre-Primary Partner Provider uplifts.
- The increase in Environmental Services relates to increased staff costs due to pay awards and inflationary pressures, for example in relation to Waste PPP contracts.
- The increase in Roads and Transport Services is largely a result of inflationary pressures in relation to road surfacing materials and an increased price of salt for gritting.
- The increase in Social Work was due to additional monies allocated by the Scottish Government and passed to the HSCP. These related to the Real Living Wage in Adult Social Care, Personal and Nursing Care for older people, Whole Family Wellbeing and Scottish Disability Assistance.
- The increase in Other Services mainly relates to increased staff costs due to pay awards and increased contract costs partially offset by savings.
- All Service areas have been impacted by increased costs relating to a number of things such as utilities and insurance as well as non-domestic rates due to the revaluation of properties by the Assessors.
In terms of capital, the Council agreed the following:
- Additional investment of £8.385m in Argyll and Bute Roads network over a two year period (2023-24 £3.797m, 2024-25 £4.588m). This provides an overall investment of £8m in both 2023-24 and 2024-25 to ensure a steady state road condition.
- Investment of £8m in the Argyll and Bute’s Learning Estate Strategy to secure new schools for Argyll and Bute.
- Additional investment of £6.132m in Rothesay Pavilion to build on previous commitments to help the project progress towards success.
- Investment of £3.5m towards infrastructure to ensure Argyll and Bute is able to comply with the Biodegradable Municipal Waste ban in 2025.
- Additional investment of £2m for ongoing capital inflationary pressures to boost resilience in the capital programme and provide support for key capital projects.
- Additional investment of £0.750m in footpath improvements across Argyll and Bute.
- Additional investment of £0.700m in new refuse collection vehicles.
- Additional investment of £0.640m for Climate Change including projects within schools.
- Investment of £0.480m for new vehicles to support the roads repair and maintenance programme.
- Additional investment of £0.668m in ICT systems and equipment to support the Councils digital resilience.
- Additional investment of £0.310m to extend cemeteries which have an operational life of less than 5 years.
The Council’s budget pack and budget agreed for 2023-24 at the Council meeting on 23 February 2023 is available on the Council website.
Council tax calculation
Gross Expenditure - £308.878 million
Less Fees and Charges - £24.343 million
|Service||Net Exp (excluding capital charges) 2023/24 (£M)||Capital Charges 2023/24 (£M)||Net Exp|
(including capital charges) 2023/24 (£M)
|Net Exp (including capital charges) 2022/23 (£M)||Change from 2022/23 (£M)||Change from 2022/23 (%)||Council Tax Band D Equivalent (£)|
|Cultural and Related Services||8.334||1.849||10.183||9.777||0.406||4.15%||231.25|
|Roads and Transport Services||12.428||6.365||18.793||17.108||1.685||9.85%||426.77|
|Planning and Development Services||2.782||0.006||2.788||2.513||0.275||10.94%||63.31|
- Government Grants - 186.096
- Non-Domestic Rates - 37.645
- Contribution to Capital Programme
- Contributions to Reserves - (0.019)
- Contributions from Reserves - 1.536
- Total Amount Needed From Council Taxes - 59.277
Band D Council Tax 2023/24 - £1,479.20
Band D Council Tax 2022/23 - £1,408.76
Scottish Average Band D Council Tax for 2022/23 - £1,347.00
COMPARISON WITH GOVERNMENT PROVISION FOR CURRENT EXPENDITURE
- Expenditure figures used by Government in Aggregate External Finance (Government Support) calculations - 5,588.24 (£ per dwelling)
- Proposed spending by Council on comparable basis - 6,131.76 (£ per dwelling)
COUNCIL EMPLOYEES (FULL-TIME EQUIVALENTS)
- 2022/23 - 3,551
- 2023/24 - 3,584
- Increase/(Decrease) - 33
- % Increase/(Decrease) - 0.93%