Your bill explained

More information to help you understand your council tax bill, how you can reduce your bills, and ways to pay it.

You can find lots of information about your council tax bill, including more information on the discounts, exemptions and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme that can all help reduce your bill. 

Guide to your council tax

General information

Your guide to council tax and your bill explained

Welcome from the Leader of the Council

Welcome to Cumberland Council’s first guide to council tax, which outlines all the information you need to understand your council tax bill.  

At Cumberland Council, we want to transform the quality and provision of our council services so that they work for the people of Cumberland. As a unitary authority, we can build on the strengths of the borough, city and county councils whilst taking advantage of the opportunities and efficiencies the changes bring. I want every penny and every pound to work for you, to support those most in need and improve the health and wellbeing of everyone.   

We understand that few people like paying tax. But without the funding provided through council tax, we simply could not provide the services that everyone relies on – from roads and planning, to waste collections, libraries, community centres and social care.  

We also understand that the rising cost of living has stretched budgets – including our own. Therefore, if you are on a low income and have not applied for support under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, have a read of the information in this guide to see if you are eligible – it could mean your bill is reduced. I’m pleased to say that we recently agreed improvements to this scheme to make it even better.   

Cllr Mark Fryer


This guide contains important information about your council tax bill, how your money is spent, what your bill is for the coming year, and the different ways to pay. To ensure you pay the right amount, this guide explains the eligibility criteria for discounts and exemptions from council tax, including reductions for disabled persons’, what to do if you dispute your council tax, and how the money paid contributes towards the services delivered by Cumberland Council, Cumbria Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria and the parish/town councils.  

Your bill explained 

Your council tax bill will look different to previous years.  

Cumberland Council is replacing Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Borough Council, Carlisle City Council and Copeland Borough Council, from 1 April 2023. Cumberland Council will then be responsible for providing your local services from that date.  

We must show the actual percentage change on your bill. The calculation of the percentage change is prescribed in regulations. We are required to show how each element of Cumberland Council’s charge contributes to the overall increase. The note on your bill details your 2022/23 charge for comparison purposes.  

Your council tax bill helps to pay for all services delivered by Cumberland Council, Cumbria Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria and the parish/town councils. 

Cumberland Council acts as the billing authority, to levy and collect taxes, for all these authorities. 

The amount of council tax you pay depends on: 

  • The value of your property based on values on 1 April 1991; and 

  • Your personal circumstances 

Every home is placed into one of the bands below. This is calculated by the Valuation Office Agency and is based on what your property was worth on 1 April 1991, not what it would be worth today.  

A typical house in the UK is one that was valued on 1 April 1991, at between £68,001 and £88,000 and so is in council tax band D. Houses with lower values are placed in bands A-C and pay less council tax, while those with higher values are placed in bands E-H and pay more council tax.  


Valuation Rates 

Up to and including £40,000 

£40,001 - £52,000 

£52,001 - £68,000 

£68,001 - £88,000 

£88,001 - £120,000 

£120,001 - £160,000 

£160,001 - £320,000 

More than £320,000 

Combined council tax totals for each charging band 2023/24

The total council tax amount for Cumberland is made up of two parts: 

  • General / Core council tax, and 

  • Adult Social Care precept 

This is shown separately in the table below, along with the Band D council tax charges from 1 April 2023 for all major precepting bodies. 


Core spending

Adult social care 

Cumberland  Council 

Cumbria Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority  

Police & Crime Commissioner for Cumbria 


Proportion of council tax bill 







Increase by each authority 









  Core spending, £ Adult Social Care, £ Cumberland Council, £ Cumbria Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority, £ Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria £ Total, £

Band A  (Up to £40,000) 







Band B  (£40,0001 - £52,000) 







Band C  (£52,001 - £68,000) 







Band D  (£68,001 - £88,000) 







Band E  (£88,001 - £120,000) 







Band F  (£120,001 - £160,000) 







Band G  (£160,001 - £320,000) 







Band H  (£320,001 and over) 







An additional town and parish precept may also be added to taxpayers in some areas. This is variable and is set by the town or parish council and more information is available. 

Explanatory note - increase for Cumberland Council

Cumberland Council is required to set a single basic (band D) amount of council tax.  

The process to equalise council tax charges across the new council footprint is known as council tax ‘harmonisation’. This means that residents whose properties are in the same valuation band will pay the same amount across the Cumberland Council area. Formerly, residents in Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland Councils paid different amounts.   

We have taken the option to harmonise council tax charges from 1 April 2023, as we feel this is the fairest approach as it means everyone pays the same for the services we are delivering. The total band D council tax for 2023/24 and increases are as follows: 


2022/23, £ 

2023/24, £ 

Increase, % 

Increase, %
















Cumberland * 





The Localism Act 2011 makes provision for council tax referendums to be held if an authority increases its basic amount of Council Tax in excess of principles determined by the Secretary of State. Town/parish council precepts are excluded when making this calculation.  

The referendum threshold levels above which council tax would be considered excessive are set each year by Central Government, for 2023/24 a referendum will be triggered if Cumberland Council set a Council Tax increase of 5%, or more than 5% (comprising 2% for expenditure on adult social care and 3% for other expenditure) when compared to the authority’s ‘relevant basic amount of council tax for the immediately preceding financial year’. 

The relevant basic amount of council tax for the immediately preceding financial year for Cumberland Council is the alternative notional amount, as specified in Annex A of the ‘Referendums Relating to Council Tax Increases (Alternative Notional Amounts) (England) Report 2023/24’, presented to the House of Commons pursuant to section 52ZE of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as inserted by Schedule five to the Localism Act 2011, this amount being £1,648.58 for the financial year beginning 1 April 2022. 

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Authority and police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria have their own referendum limits, which are dealt with separately to Cumberland Council. 

Explanatory note - Adult Social Care  

From 2016-17 onwards, central government gave local authorities (with responsibility for providing Adult Social Care services) the flexibility to increase council tax by an additional element. This recognised the increasing cost pressures upon councils in relation to provision of adult social care. This additional element is known as the Adult Social Care precept.  

Cumberland Council set a total council tax increase of 4.99% for 2023/2024. The Adult Social Care precept has been increased by 2.00% as part of that overall increase and the core/general element has been increased by 2.99%.  

Both parts are calculated the same way, the percentage change multiplied by the total council tax amount for the previous year. 

As noted above, the council tax level for 2022/2023, for the purposes of calculating council tax increases, including the Adult Social Care precept, is known as the alternative notional amount and is £1,648.58. The below is an example for a Band D property: 

  • Adult social Care Increase of 2.00% against the total 2022/2023 amount of £1,648.58 is £32.97, and  

  • General/core increase of 2.99% against the total 2022/2023 amount of £1,648.58 is £49.29 

In the interest of transparency, the Government requires local authorities to separate out the amount of their overall Council Tax charge which relates to the Adult Social Care precept, since the precept scheme started in 2016: 


2022/23, £ 

Increase, £ 

2023/23, £ 

Increase (against total 2022/23 amount), %

Of which Adult Social Care 





Of which general/core 





Cumberland, total band D 





The percentage increases shown on the bill reflects the change from the total council tax amount for the previous year, as shown in the calculation above, rather than the Adult Social Care element from the previous year. This can be confusing, but the Council is required by legislation to display the figures on the bill in this way.  

Are you paying too much council tax? Ways you may be able to reduce your bill

To apply for any of these schemes use the contact details on the back of your bill.

Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 

Cumberland Council has a generous council tax reduction scheme to help those most in need.  

Council tax benefit (CTB) was abolished in 2013 and replaced with the Local Council Tax Reduction scheme. Although it is closely aligned with the CTB scheme that preceded it, it is not a benefit. It is a reduction in the amount of council tax a person is liable to pay. However, unlike other council tax discounts, this reduction is means-tested and is administered alongside housing benefit claims in the same way CTB was.  

Council tax reduction helps to pay towards some, or all, of your council tax bill if you are on a low income, even if you own your own home.  

The maximum amount of council tax reduction payable is 100% of the charge. The amount you get will depend on your individual circumstances. This will include your age and whether you live alone.  

Council tax reduction can be applied for on-line and the amount of support you get will normally be deducted from the council tax bill we send you.  

Care leavers discount from council tax  

If you are a care leaver as defined in The Children (Care Leavers) Act 2000, you may be eligible for a discount from council tax until your 25th birthday.  

  • Eligible children are those young people aged 16-17 who are still in care and have been ‘looked after’ for a total of 13 weeks from the age of 14 and including their 16th birthday. 

  • Relevant children are those young people aged 16 and 17 who have already left care, and who were ‘looked after’ for at least 13 weeks from the age of 14 and have been ‘looked after’ at some time while they were 16 or 17. 

  • Former relevant children are those young people aged 18, 19 or 20 who have been eligible and/or relevant.  

Council tax discretionary relief (Section 13A Local Government Finance Act 1992) 

Under Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the council has the power to reduce liability for council tax in relation to individual cases or class(es) of cases that it may determine and where national discounts and exemptions cannot be applied.  

Council tax if you have a disability 

If you, or someone living with you, need a room, an extra bathroom, kitchen, or extra space in your property to meet special requirements arising from a disability, you may be entitled to a disabled reduction. Your bill may be reduced to that of a property in the band immediately below the band shown for your property. If you are already in band A, the lowest valuation band, you may still qualify for a reduction.  

Council tax discounts  

The council tax bill for each band assumes that there are at least two adults living in the property. If there is only one adult resident, you are eligible for a 25% discount.  

Any person over 18 years of age is counted as an adult. The following people may not count when we look at the number of adults who live in your property: 

  • Full-time students, student nurses, apprentices and youth-training trainees 

  • Patients living in hospital 

  • People looked after in care homes 

  • People who are severely mentally impaired 

  • People staying in certain hostels or night shelters 

  • Persons in respect of whom child benefit is payable 

  • 18- and 19-year-olds who are at or have just left school 

  • Care workers on a low income 

  • People caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18 

  • Members of visiting forces and certain international institutions 

  • Foreign diplomats and certain members of international organisations 

  • Members of religious communities 

  • People in prison (except those in prison for not paying their council tax or a fine) 

Occupied exemptions from council tax 

In most cases, if a property is occupied it is charged council tax, however there are exceptions and a property can also be exempt if it is occupied:  

  • Class M – halls of residence, if they are owned by a prescribed educational establishment 

  • Class N – occupied only by students, school or college leavers or certain spouses or dependents of students if all the residents are students and are undertaking a full-time course of education at a prescribed education establishment 

  • Class O – armed forces accommodation (UK Forces) owned by the Secretary of State for Defence 

  • Class P – members and dependents of visiting forces 

  • Class S – if all residents are under 18 years of age 

  • Class U – if occupied by one or more severely mentally impaired person or if occupied by one person who is severely mentally impaired together with a person who meets the requirements of Class N above (students, school or college leavers or certain spouses or dependents of students) 

  • Class V - diplomatic immunity if it is the main residence of at least one person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred by the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, Commonwealth Act 1966, Consular Relations Act 1968 and the Commonwealth Countries and Republic Ireland Order 1985 

  • Class W – occupied annexes are exempt if they form part of a single property of at least one other property and it is the sole or main residence of a dependent relative of a person who is resident in the other property. A dependent relative is defined as a person aged 65 years or more, a person who is severely mentally impaired, a person who is substantially and permanently disabled.  

Unoccupied exemptions from council tax 

Empty properties may be exempt from paying council tax if the property is: 

  • Class B – vacant and owned by a charity  

  • Class D – vacant because the liable person is in prison  

  • Class E – vacant because the liable person is a permanent patient in a hospital or care home 

  • Class F – vacant because the liable person is deceased and probate or letters of administration have not yet been granted.  

  • Class G – vacant because nobody is allowed to live there by law 

  • Class H – vacant and held for a minister of religion 

  • Class I – vacant because the liable person is receiving care at another address that is not a care home 

  • Class J – vacant because the liable person is caring for someone elsewhere 

  • Class K – vacant because the liable person is living elsewhere to study 

  • Class L – vacant because the property has been repossessed 

  • Class Q – vacant by a bankrupt trustee 

  • Class R – vacant caravan pitch or boat mooring 

  • Class T – vacant part of another property that may not be let separately due to planning restrictions 

Empty property discounts and premiums 

Unoccupied and unfurnished properties – If your property is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished, you may be entitled to a 100% discount for three months. No discount is awarded after this period and the full council tax is due.  

Uninhabitable property under repair - If your property is undergoing major structural repair, you may be entitled to a 75% discount for as long as it remains in that state, or for one year (whichever is the lesser time).  

Second Homes – Furnished second homes are subject to 100% charge. However, some second homes may be eligible for a 50% discount. If you are responsible for council tax on two furnished properties, one of which is not your main home, you may be eligible for a 50% discount, if you are required to occupy either property as a condition of your employment (and it is specified as part of your employment contract).  

On 26 January 2023, as part of the ‘Calculation of the Council Tax Base for 2023-24’ report, Cumberland Shadow Authority approved the introduction of an increased council tax charge in respect of 2nd Homes, from 1 April 2024, subject to relevant legislation being in place. 

Empty homes premium for properties empty between two and five years – properties that are left vacant for more than two years are subject to an additional 100% premium, resulting in 200% council tax payable.  

Empty homes premium for properties empty for more than five years – a 200% premium applies for properties empty more than five years, resulting in 300% council tax payable.  

Empty homes premium for properties empty more than 10 years – a 300% premium applies for properties empty more than 10 years, resulting in 400% council tax payable.  

The premium is charged against the property. If you are considering purchasing a property that has been empty for a while, please contact the council to discuss this further, as you may be subject to the additional premium immediately. 

To apply for any of these schemes use the contact details on the back of your bill. 

Appeals and disputes regarding your council tax 

You may appeal if you think you are not liable to pay council tax – for example, if you are not the resident owner, or because the property is exempt. You may also appeal if you believe we have made a mistake when working out the amount you should pay. This relates to discounts and reductions under the disability reduction and Council Tax Reduction Scheme. If you want to appeal on these grounds, you must first contact the council and state the reasons for your appeal.  

We have a duty to respond to you within two months. We will inform you of the steps we have taken to deal with your appeal. If you are not satisfied, you may appeal to the Council tax appeals - Valuation Tribunal Service within two months of our decision. If we fail to respond to your original appeal, you may appeal directly to the Valuation Tribunal Service within four months of your original appeal to the council.  

Appeals regarding your council tax band 

If you believe your council tax band is incorrect, you must first appeal to the listing officer of the Valuation Office Agency Challenge your Council tax band: Overview - GOV.UK ( The listing officer will look at your cases and respond within four months. If you disagree with the listing officer’s decision you can, within three months of the listing officer’s decision, make an appeal directly to the Council tax appeals - Valuation Tribunal Service 

If the listing officer believes a proposal is invalid because it does not meet the statutory requirements, they may serve an invalidity notice. You may, within four weeks of receiving the notice, appeal directly to the Council tax appeals - Valuation Tribunal Service stating the reasons for disputing the notice.  

Help us to get it right first time

You must notify us of any changes that may affect your council tax liability, e.g., people moving in and out, changes to eligibility for reductions, or your ability to pay. The quickest way to let us know of changes is by using the contact details on your bill.  

Assumptions we have made 

If your account has an exemption, discount, reduction, or premium awarded, the bill assumes that the circumstances will remain the same for the whole financial year. If the assumptions on the bill are incorrect, you must tell us within 21 days. Please also remember that you must tell the council of all changes of circumstances that occur during the year that affect the amount of discount, exemption, reduction, or premium within 21 days of the change. If you fail to do so, the council can impose a penalty of £70.

How to pay your council tax

Your council tax bill is normally payable over ten monthly instalments. If you wish to pay over twelve months, please contact the council at least 14 days before your first instalment is due.  

Details of the monthly instalments for the year are shown on your bill.  

Further information regarding how to pay is shown on the reverse of your council tax bill: 

  • Direct Debit - instalments are available on 1st, 8th, 15th or 22nd 
  • Debit/credit card – see the reverse of your bill for further information 
  • Bank transfer – using the sort code and account number shown on the reverse of your bill 
  • Pay Point – using the barcode on your bill at any Pay Point or Post Office 

If you pay by standing order, you may need to amend your payment information as our bank details are changing. Please check the back of your bill for further information. If you make a payment to the old bank account we will still receive the payment, and you will not receive a reminder.

Help and support and bogus callers

If you are having difficulty paying your council tax, please contact the council to discuss this further. Our contact details can be found on your bill.  

In addition, local welfare and debt advice agencies are on hand to support you if you are struggling financially.  

  • Citizens Advice Carlisle – 0808 278 7844 
  • Citizens Advice Copeland – 0808 278 7959 
  • Citizens Advice Allerdale – 01900 604735 

Bogus callers 

We are aware that members of the public often receive bogus calls from people pretending to be from our council tax department. Bogus callers claim that you are due a council tax refund and usually ask for your bank details or a debit card so the refund can be made.  

We do not call council taxpayers to inform them of refunds by phone. If you receive such a call, do not provide your details. Please contact the council, using the telephone number shown on your bill, to verify the position.