Why the amount of council tax you pay could be set to change if you live in Wales
Council tax is a regular bill paid by most of us, with the money going to your local council to be put towards services in your area.
But not everyone pays the same amount as it depends on which band the property you live in falls into. And now new plans could see your band and bill change.
The Welsh Government have put forward proposals to re-evaluate all Welsh properties and reassess the council tax banding system. The plans aim to "rebalance the tax burden" on households and make it "fairer".
Proposals are at an early stage with a consultation being launched today (12 July) - but it could mean you face a new band and a different level of council tax.
What are the plans?
As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Government is proposing all 1.5 million properties in Wales have their council tax band re-evaluated.
It is part of plans to overhaul the current council tax system.
Re-evaluating all properties would mean different bands could be created, with new tax rates. Plans are currently in the early stages though and changes would come into effect in 2025.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething MS said the aim was to create more bands
An initial government consultation on the reforms has been launched and is open for 12 weeks.
Why does the Welsh Government want these plans to go forward?
The government says the current system is outdated as the last banding evaluation in Wales took place in 2003 - and the value of some homes has increased since then.
It argues that these plans would help "rebalance" the tax paid by households, ensuring everyone is "paying the right level".
Ministers say the current system "contributes to wealth inequalities".
In a statement, the Welsh Government added: "Homes in the highest tax band can be worth more than nine times the value of homes in the bottom band, yet only pay three and a half times more council tax."
The Welsh Conservatives said they welcome a consultation on council tax but emphasised the need for any changes to lead to a "fair transition for council taxpayers", so no one is forced into financial hardship.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Local Government, Sam Rowlands MS, added: "Ministers must consider the position of those on fixed incomes like pensioners and be mindful of individuals who may not have a significant income in proportion to their house value, especially with the recent movement in house prices."
The Welsh Liberal Demoracts say the plans do not go far enough and but the timing of the consultation is also problematic.
The party's Leader, Jane Dodds MS, said: "Despite both Plaid Cymru and Labour previously pledging to work towards a land value tax to replace the outdated council tax system, these proposals don't seem to bring us any closer to the systemic changes needed."Reforms must go beyond a simple revaluation and the changing of tax bands.
"I am also seriously concerned that should re-evaluation go-ahead during a period of extremely inflated property prices such as the one we are experiencing now, these proposals could hurt the very people they are designed to help."
Will I end up paying more council tax?
The last council tax evaluation took place in 2003 and the value of homes has increased since then.
However the Welsh Government said the system would still remain "a relative one", so this would not necessarily lead to your council tax bill increasing.
The Finance and Local Government Minister, Rebecca Evans MS, said some people would see their bills go down as the plans are not supposed to change the overall amount of council tax generated.
“The reforms are not intended to raise more revenue from council taxpayers overall as, while some people could pay more, many others would pay less," she said.
"And we will consider the need for transitional arrangements for any changes.
“We recognise this is a significant exercise and that we have a great deal of work to do before any changes can be introduced. These proposals are at an early stage so I encourage people to have their say through the consultation.”
Plaid Cymru Designated Member, Cefin Campbell MS, said the current system disproportionately effects households on lower incomes and reform would help address this.
He said: “Council tax is one of the most outdated and regressive forms of taxation which places a heavier burden on some of our lower income households, and disproportionately impacts poorer areas of Wales.
"It is time to make it fairer and the proposals we have jointly agreed offer a chance to do just that.
“These proposals are the first step in changing the council tax system which could make a real difference, by making the system fairer and more progressive while still supporting the services delivered by local authorities.”
What is the current banding system?
Currently properties in Wales are classed in one of nine bands, each with a different tax rate that is set by your local authority. Each band covers properties of the following values:
A - up to £44,000
B - £44,001 to £65,000
C - £65,001 to £91,000
D - £91,001 to £123,000
E - £123,001 to £162,000
F - £162,001 to £223,000
G - £223,001 to £324,000
H - £324,001 to £424,000
I - more than £424,000
The band valuations are based on factors like size, layout and location of the property.
What does council tax pay for?
Funds raised through council tax pay for local services including schools, social care provision, policing, fire and rescue services, and road infrastructure.
Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Cllr Andrew Morgan, explained that it makes up a "significant" portion of councils' spend.
Cllr Morgan said: “Council tax is an important source of funding for all our local services from schools and care services, through to waste collection and transport.
“While it accounts for around 20% of everything councils spend, it is nevertheless significant, and it is vital that this local tax is kept up to date and fair."
He also said that the current tax "cannot be fair" as it is based on evaluations nearly 20 years old.
He added: “Any proposal will have to be carefully considered given the quirks of the local housing market, and we will work with ministers to ensure that we can deliver this important reform.”