Council tax leaflet

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.

Valuation Band (based on market value at 01/04/91)

Council Tax Band D Proportion

Council Tax (£)

Water & Sewerage Band D Proportion

Water (£)

Sewerage (£)

Total Payable 2021/22 (£)

A

up to £27,000

240/360

911.82

6/9

141.66

164.46

1217.94

B

£27,001 – 35,000

280/360

1063.79

7/9

165.27

191.87

1420.93

C

£35,001 – 45,000

320/360

1215.76

8/9

188.88

219.28

1623.92

D

£45,001 – 58,000

360/360

1367.73

9/9

212.49

246.69

1826.91

E

£58,001 – 80,000

473/360

1797.05

11/9

259.71

301.51

2358.27

F

£80,001 – 106,000

585/360

2222.56

13/9

306.93

356.33

2885.82

G

£106,001 – 212,000

705/360

2678.47

15/9

354.15

411.15

3443.77

H

over  £212,000

882/360

3350.94

18/9

424.98

493.38

4269.30

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) and an online assistant called Abby who can answer most queries or direct you to the correct online service. 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:

Opening hours

Service Points have been closed for some time due to Covid restrictions. The council continually reviews this situation and any change in their status and re-opening hours will be communicated on the Contact Us web page. When open the Service Points can be found here:

  • Campbeltown - Burnet Building, St John Street
  • Dunoon - Hill Street
  • 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

Payments Line - 01546 605515 (automated service available 24/7).

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

Discounts

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. 

Exemptions

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 going to our website and clicking on the ‘Pay It’ link. Or you can call the Payments Line on 01546 605515 (automated service available 24/7).

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 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. 

Appeal rights

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, there is a further right of appeal to a Valuation Appeals Committee.  Your appeal to the Valuation Appeals Committee must be within four months of the date of your original appeal.  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.

Complaints

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!

Budget 2021/22

The Council approved a budget for 2021-22 at the Council’s budget meeting held on 25 February 2021.  The Council’s revenue funding for 2021-22 is £254.456m.  This compares to the funding for 2020-21 (at the time of setting the 2020-21 budget) of £250.878m, an increase of £3.578m.  The increase in funding arises as a result of an increase in Scottish Government funding.  Some of the increase in Scottish Government funding relates to increases that were received in 2020-21 after the budget was set which include funding towards the teacher induction scheme, and an amount for costs relating to managing the issues associated with the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.  Increases in funding relating to 2021-22 include funding that requires to be transferred to the Health and Social Care Partnership and compensatory funding for the Council for agreeing to a Council Tax freeze.  

The majority of the increase in Scottish Government funding has been allocated for specific responsibilities 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 £2.900m between 2020-21 and 2021-22 as shown on the calculation of council tax table.  The significant changes across the Council are noted below:

  • Increase of £3.8m in employee costs for Council Services relating to pay inflation, pay increments, consolidation of the living wage.
  • Allowance for unavoidable/inescapable non-pay inflation on Council Services of just over £1.0m.
  • New cost and demand pressures amounting to just under £1.2m.
  • An increase of just over £1.6m towards the Health and Social Care Partnership in line with the additional monies allocated by Scottish Government and an agreed increase in HSCP funding proportionate to the Council’s increase in its 2021-22 funding from the Scottish Government.
  • A decrease in the management fee paid to Live Argyll of just under £0.4m.
  • New policy savings options that were agreed as part of the year’s budget amounting to £0.558m.
  • Further management/operational savings identified which have no policy implications amounting to just over £2.1m.
  • A small inflationary increase to fees and charges which is estimated to bring in around £0.3m additional income.

At service level the larger variations from 2020-21 are explained as follows:

  • The increase within Education Services mainly relates to increased staff costs, Central Repairs and a reduction in School Meal Income which is largely due to COVID-19.
  • The increase in Environmental Services mainly relates to cost pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic including a reduction in commercial waste income and increased costs for cleaning and Personal Protective Equipment.
  • The decrease in Roads and Transport Services is a consequence of additional funding allocated in 2020-21 which is non-recurring in 2021-22.
  • The increase in Social Work relates to the additional monies allocated by the Scottish Government and an increase in HSCP funding.
  • The decrease in Other Services mainly relates to adjustments to the Council’s Loans Fund due to the exercising of financial flexibilities and a projected reduction in income across a range of services due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Council set a balanced revenue budget for 2021-22 which included a transfer of revenue budget to capital to contribute toward the current funding gap and make specific investment in roads, active travel, and climate change measures. 

In terms of capital, the Council agreed the following:

  • Additional investment of £2.613m to build on previous years investment in Argyll and Bute’s road network.
  • Additional investment of £0.500m in Active Travel to enhance footpaths and pavements.
  • Additional investment of £0.600m in climate change measures to reduce costs and carbon emissions.

When setting the 2021-22 budget the Council also considered the funds made available to specifically help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Council’s revenue and capital budgets and on communities across Argyll and Bute. An estimated total of £14.9m has been made available through a combination of Scottish Government funding and via management of the Council’s loan fund. The significant investments agreed by the Council in relation to these funds are as follows:

  • £7.101m to address specific COVID-19 cost pressures projected to arise in 2021-22.
  • £5.0m to be provided to address further COVID-19 cost pressures which either stretch beyond 2021-22 or are unforeseen at the current time.
  • £0.800m to maximise the potential for growth in Argyll and Bute’s staycation market and promote it as Scotland’s premier staycation destination.
  • £0.600m to boost the wellbeing and build back the resilience of young people, in particular those most vulnerable, following COVID-19, including counselling and increased provision of childcare for children under three.
  • £0.250m on tackling digital exclusion to support communities and in some cases individuals that are missing out on national programmes due to logistics and economies of scale.
  • £0.172m to provide two additional Welfare Rights support staff to support people experiencing poverty and hardship.
  • £0.020m to suspend off-street parking across the festive period to encourage residents to support local shops in the lead up to Christmas.
  • £0.892m to establish a COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Fund to provide for future recovery, regeneration and renewal.

The Council’s budget pack and budget agreed for 2021-22 at the Council meeting on 25 February 2021 is available here on the Council website.

Council tax calculation

Gross Expenditure - £267.55 million         
Less Fees and Charges - £16.79 million   

Net Expenditure - £250.760 million
ServiceNet Exp (excluding capital charges)
2021/22 (£M)
Capital Charges
2021/22 (£M)
Net Exp
(including capital charges)
2021/22 (£M)
Net Exp (including capital charges)
2020/21 (£M)
Change from 2020/21 (£M)Change from 2020/21 (%)Council Tax Band D Equivalent (£)
Education Services121.67510.565132.240128.1964.0443.15%3,064.80
Housing Services4.1840.0264.2104.651(0.441)(9.48%)97.57
Cultural and Related Services7.1541.7738.9279.157(0.230)(2.51%)206.89
Environmental Services18.8490.84419.69318.4581.2356.69%456.41
Roads and Transport Services11.0155.80116.81617.670(0.854)(4.83%)389.73
Planning and Development Services3.0360.0033.0392.8960.1434.94%70.43
Social Work65.7640.59266.35664.8531.5032.32%1,537.87
Other Services10.496(11.017)(0.521)1.979(2.500)(126.33%)(12.07)
 242.1738.587250.760247.8602.9001.17%5,811.63

Financed by:

  • Government Grants - £174.093 million
  • Non-Domestic Rates - £31.559 million
  • Contribution to Capital Programme - £(2.975) million
  • Contributions to Reserves - £(4.888) million
  • Contributions from Reserves - £0.112 million
  • Total Amount Needed From Council Taxes - £52.859 million

Band D Council Tax: 2021/22 - £1,367.73              

Band D Council Tax: 2020/21: - £1,367.73             

Scottish Average Band D Council Tax for: 2020/21 - £1,308.00          

COMPARISON WITH GOVERNMENT PROVISION FOR CURRENT EXPENDITURE

  • Expenditure figures used by Government in Aggregate External Finance (Government Support) calculations - 5,249.33 (£ per Dwelling)
  • Proposed spending by Council on comparable basis - 5,612.61 (£ per Dwelling)

COUNCIL EMPLOYEES (FULL-TIME EQUIVALENTS)

  • 2020/21 - 3,522
  • 2021/22 - 3,548
  • Increase/(Decrease) - 26
  • % Increase/(Decrease) - 0.74%