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Stark difference between council tax rates and services across region

05 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Council tax

Twm Owen Local Democracy Reporter

The most expensive ‘typical’ council tax bill in one Welsh local authority is more than £900 higher than that of a neighbouring county, it has emerged. 

Gwent’s five principal councils have all now agreed the level of council tax residents will have to pay from April this year. 

The charge is intended as a local contribution towards the vast array of services unitary authorities provide from filling in potholes, running libraries and collecting rubbish and recycling.


In reality councils spend most of their budgets on social services for adults and children and education with homelessness also a rising cost, meaning most other services are subject to an even tighter squeeze. 

Services provided also vary from council to council. While Caerphilly Borough Council provides council housing most others in Gwent do not and Monmouthshire County Council continues to operate its own leisure centres while others, including Torfaen, have passed on responsibility to trusts instead. 

As council tax is intended to raise a contribution towards services from residents it is for individual councils to agree how much the charge should be, though it also dictated by the amount a council is awarded in the settlement from the Welsh Government which makes up the bulk of every council’s funding. 

However the smaller the pot it receives from the Welsh Government the greater pressure there is to raise funds direct from residents either through the council tax or hiking other charges such as parking. In Torfaen the council tax accounts for just 16 per cent of the authority’s total budget but in Newport residents are paying directly for 23 per cent of the council’s costs. 

All these variances make comparisons between council tax levels difficult but the band D bill, the fourth of five bands, all homes are placed in based on property values, is used to help calculate the council tax. 

Residents are then charged a bill which is either reduced by a ratio on its value lower than a band D, for those homes in the three lower bands, or increased for the five higher bands.

“Highest in Wales”

When comparing band D bills Blaenau Gwent, at £2,290* this year has the highest charge in Gwent, and last year its band D bill was the highest in Wales. 

The cheapest band D bill in Gwent, now levels for 2024/25 and annual increases have been agreed, is £1,380.13 in Newport. Those figures are only for the county council element of the bill as all will also have a precept to pay towards Gwent Police added and in areas where there are town and community councils they also charge a precept as well. The Gwent Police precept from April will be £349.52 for a band D home. 

However there are only 1,742 band D homes, valued at between £91,000 to £123,000 on 2003 prices, in Blaenau Gwent with most (58 per cent) in the lowest band A. 

It’s a similar story for most other Gwent authorities with 75 per cent in Caerphilly in the lowest three bands, with bands A to C also the most common in Newport and Torfaen. 


In contrast in Monmouthshire 75 per cent of all homes are in band D and above and just one per cent are in the lowest band A. 

The Welsh Government has been consulting on changes to council tax which could increase the number of bands, at both the top and bottom, and a revaluation. 

Councillors in Monmouthshire have raised concerns this could see its residents hit with even higher bills. Critics of council tax say it doesn’t take account of people’s ability to pay and a property’s value may not represent a residents income due to factors such as having lived in a home for a long time, while it is likely to have gained in value. 

All councils offer reductions for single people and those who may struggle to afford their council tax bill and information is available by contacting your council or potentially on the back of a council tax bill. 

What are the band D council tax bills in Gwent from April 2024? 

Increases are shown in brackets but figures exclude police and community council precepts. 

Blaenau Gwent Borough Council 

£2,290* (4.95 per cent) 

Caerphilly Borough Council  

£1,446.37 (6.9 per cent)  

Monmouthshire County Council 

£1,686.70 (7.8 per cent) 

Newport City Council 

£1,380.13 (8.5 per cent) 

Torfaen Borough Council 

£1,550.57 (4.95 per cent) 

*Blaenau Gwent Council hadn’t published a band D figure and the amount has been calculated based on its agreed 4.95 per cent increase on last year’s band D bill which was £2,182. 

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