Students Might Have To Start Paying Council Tax

A campaign has been launched to reimburse the council millions of pounds.

While rent prices and bills are currently soaring due to the cost of living crisis, one thing students are safe from is paying council tax— for now.

However, that could change as one council is trying to reverse the exemption and actually get students to pay it.

You might have seen in the news that a few councils across the UK have been declared bankrupt, including Birmingham, Nottingham and Croydon which means they’ve essentially run out of money and can no longer fund local resources.

Now the city of Durham Parish Council has come up with an idea to avoid this by potentially charging students for council tax. The council is arguing that over £11 million is being lost from student properties which is causing a huge financial loss for them.

With over 6,196 student properties in Durham exempt from council tax as well as 1,857 rooms in student halls this has apparently led to a huge loss in council money, as more and more homes are being let as student properties.

While more student properties being available is actually great for students in Durham, the council are arguing that something needs to change and that either the students living there or the landlords should have to pay up.

Luckily, it’s only one council who has suggested this idea and they would not be able to enforce this without approval from the government— but who’s to say more councils might get on board with this leading to the change actually happening?

What is council tax?

As students don’t pay council tax you might be wondering what it is or why people have to pay it. One of the big perks of being a student is you don’t have to pay council tax, however, as soon as you graduate that will change as most people over 18 have to pay it.

Council tax is quite literally a tax you pay your local council, just to live in your house. The money will go towards council resources and funding, from maintaining libraries to filling in potholes or bin collections. While some people are exempt and do get discounts, for example, if you’re on a low income or have a disability most people have to pay it and if you don’t you can get in serious trouble (we’re talking fines or even prison) and debt.

Luckily, this is one part of being an adult that uni students get to skip out on for a few years, so enjoy not paying it while it lasts.

How much is council tax?

Council tax largely depends on where you live, as each council sets its prices. So, if you live in London your borough could be completely different to your neighbouring borough as each council is different.

It also depends on the size of your house, as it’s based on the value of your house in 1991 and every property has a corresponding band number. Again, it does depend on your council but the bands normally range between A-H with A being the cheapest. The higher the band, the more you have to pay so if you lived in a studio flat your council tax would be much cheaper than someone living in a 4-bed house.

You do get a discount if you live on your own and if you were living in a 4-bed house with flatmates you’d split the cost 4 ways between you—but it doesn’t mean council tax is always cheap.

Oh yeah, and council tax will increase each year due to inflation, so you have that to look forward to as well.

For example in Nottingham council tax is currently set at the following for 2024/2025:

Valuation BandCouncil Tax amount for the year
You would be able to find the band of your property on your local council website.

You don’t have to pay it in one lump sum and can set up a direct debit for equal instalments each month, however, it’s definitely something you need to budget for each month once you’re eligible to pay it especially as it can be very expensive in some areas of the UK.

So, if you lived in Nottingham in a band C property with a partner, you’d each have to pay £187 a month which would be about £94 each, on top of your rent and other household bills.

While students paying council tax is only a proposition from one council right now, this could genuinely be a reality if more and more councils support the idea— and it’s the last thing students need.

Not to mention, with more and more councils going bankrupt this could be a solution many councils try to enforce over the next few years which we’re sure you’ll agree is not good news at all.