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Guide to Council Tax

Find out how your Council Tax is calculated and how it is spent.

What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is a local tax that helps to pay for a wide range of public services in your borough.

Each household receives a bill and the amount each household pays depends on which property valuation band the home is in and any discounts or exemptions that apply.

There are 8 valuation bands which relate to the value of the property on 1 April 1991, with the value of new properties being assessed back to this date.

In addition to Merton's Council Tax, the Council also collect an amount of Council Tax on behalf of the GLA, and households within three quarters of a mile of Wimbledon Common are required to pay an additional levy for Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservation.

Charges and bands

The amount of Council Tax you pay depends on which of the eight bands your home comes under.

We use band D charge as the basis for working out the charge for the other bands. For example, the charge for a band D property for 2020/21 is £1,608.99.

To work out the cost of a band A property in the main part of the borough it's £1,608.99 x 6/9.


Property value (on 1 April 1991)

Proportion of band D charge

Council Tax charge (Main part of borough)

AUp to £40 0006/9£1072.66
H£320,001 upwards18/9£3,217.98

If you live within the area of Wimbledon and Putney Common you pay an extra £30.41 (Band D) to cover the expenses of the Commons Conservators. Including this charge, the Band D charge is £1,639.40.

You may not have to pay the full Council Tax charge as you may be entitled to a discount or an exemption.

What Council Tax helps pay for

Council Tax helps pays for the local services we provide. With the introduction of the Adult Social Care Levy there are four main elements to the charge:-

  • spending on local services, such as education, waste collection, green spaces, and care services including levies, which the Council is required by statute to pay to  the Environment Agency, the London Pension Fund Authority, and Lee Valley Regional Park.

  • Spending on adult social care which is ring-fenced and funded by the Adult Social Care precept

  • the GLA charge for the services they provide, such as police and fire services which is collected by the Council and passed to the GLA

  • If you live within the area of Wimbledon and Putney Common you pay an extra £30.41 (Band D) to cover the expenses of the Commons Conservators.
Merton's Band D Council Tax









Merton general precept1,159.981,184.5224.542.0
Merton Adult Social Care precept67.8492.4024.562.0

Merton Band D excluding WPCC

GLA precept320.51332.0711.563.6 

Merton Band D including GLA excluding WPCC

1,548.33 1,608.9960.663.9 

Merton Band D including WPCC and GLA


*Of the 4% increase in Council Tax, 1.999% (£24.54) is for Merton's general precept and 2.000% (£24.56) is for the Adult Social Care Precept.


Average Council Tax

The Government requires us to express our Council Tax as an average. Merton's average 2020/21 Band D Council Tax is £1,281.56.

Across the Council's area most properties pay the general Council Tax but some properties also pay the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators levy. The total Council Tax raised for Merton's services across the borough is then converted to an average although no properties pay the average, they either pay the Merton Council Tax (Band D = £1,276.92) or the Merton + WPCC Council Tax (Band D = £1,307.33)

The 2020/21 average Council Tax (Band D) including the GLA precept is £1,613.63.

Adult Social Care Precept

Statement concerning adult social care funding

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made an offer to adult social care authorities. ("Adult social care authorities" are local authorities which have functions under Part 1 of the Care Act 2014, namely county councils in England, district councils for an area in England for which there is no county council, London borough councils, the Common Council of the City of London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.)

The offer was the option of an adult social care authority being able to charge an additional "precept" on its Council Tax without holding a referendum, to assist the authority in meeting its expenditure on adult social care from the financial year 2016-17. It was originally made in respect of the financial years up to and including 2019-20. If the Secretary of State chooses to renew this offer in respect of a particular financial year, this is subject to the approval of the House of Commons.". For 2020/21 Parliament has now agreed to extend the offer to 2020/21 with referendum principles set out below.

In 2020/21 if local authorities with responsibility for social care, such as Merton, want to levy a precept of greater than or equal to 4% they will have to hold a local referendum. The 4% limit comprises 2% for expenditure on adult social care, and 2% for other expenditure. So in 2020/21, in order not to trigger a local referendum Merton's Council Tax increase has been limited to 3.999%, comprising  2% for expenditure on adult social care, and 1.999% for other expenditure). The 2020/21 Adult Social Care precept (Band D) has been set at £24.56 (2%) with £24.54 (1.999%) for other expenditure.

The adult social care percentage increase is calculated using the full Merton Council Tax charge, including the adult social care figure, and not just calculated as a percentage of the adult social care amount.

Our main income sources

Our main sources of income are:

  • fees and charges – charges that we make for services that we provide
  • business rates – these rates, called National Non-Domestic Rates, are the means by which local businesses contribute to the cost of providing local authority services. In 2020/21 Merton is participating in a London Pool on a 75% Business Rates Retention basis. This is known as the 67% scheme because under the pool we keep 30% of our income from business rates, 37% goes to the GLA with the remaining 33% being paid to central Government.
  • revenue support grant – a government grant which can be used to finance revenue expenditure on any service. Under the 2020/21 arrangements Merton will receive Revenue Support Grant of £5.159m.
  • other government grants – grants from Government which are usually allocated to fund specific services.
  • collection fund – this is any surplus or deficit from previous year's Council Tax and business rates.
  • Council Tax requirement –this is an estimate of the income we'll raise from Council Tax this year.
  • budget requirement –this is an estimate of what we will spend this year after deducting income raised from services we charge for, government grants and any funding from reserves.

How Council Tax is calculated

  1. We plan our services for the coming year and work out how much they will cost to provide.
  2. We deduct any income that we expect to receive during the year from fees and charges, government grants and other contributions, and a share of business rates (30%).
  3. The resulting balance is the amount we need to fund from Council Tax. The Council Tax is calculated by dividing this figure between all properties in the borough, taking into account the different Council Tax property bands.

Main income sources in 2020/21 and amount raised per head

Funding sources




Business rates38,67627172.74
Revenue support grant5,159423.04
Collection fund32701.46
Council Tax requirement97,38669434.95
Budget requirement141,548100632.19

* Based on estimated population of 223,900 in 2020 (source: ONS)


Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS)

You can view our financial plans for the next four years in our Medium Term Financial Strategy.

The services we deliver

This table shows the amount we plan to spend on council services in 2020 to 2021 compared to last year (excluding schools which are funded by a Dedicated Schools Grant).

  2019/20 2020/21
  Gross expenditure £000's  Income £000's  Net expenditure £000's  Gross expenditure £000's Income £000's  Net expenditure £000's
Corporate Services146,812(135,882)10,930120,717(110,442)10,275
Children, Schools, and Families234,566(173,746)60,820236,956(174,959)61,997
Environment and Regeneration63,098(47,267)15,83166,370(52,346)14,024
Community and Housing101,089(37,334)63,755106,615(37,959)68,656
Investments and Provisions20,360(33,364)-13,00438,304(41,396)-3,092
Planned Expenditure 566,875 (427,593) 139,282 569,925 (417,102) 152,823
Contribution to/(from) Reserves0(431,779)-4,1860(11,275)-11,275
Net requirement for tax purposes 566,875 (431,779) 135,096 569,925 (428,377) 141,548
Public Health10,396(10,396)0 10,690 (10,690) 0

Public health funding is provided by the NHS and is not part of our services. We have included it to show that it is money we are responsible for although it has no effect on the level of Council Tax set.

Planned spending for 2020 to 2021

This chart shows the figures in a pie chart from the 2020 to 2021 income and expenditure table

Changes in our revenue spend from 2019-20 to 2020-21

Our spending has gone up from £135.096m in 2019-20 to £136.389m in 2020-21. We've made savings of £11.397m on council services..

Revenue spending 2019/20 (£m) 135.096
Savings in service provision(11,397)
Growth in Service Provision5,230
Pay and price increases5,243
​Provision for DSG deficit16,009​
​Pension Fund revaluation​(2,447)
Other adjustments, concessionary fares, income etc.(0,635)
Capital financing(1,125)
Appropriations to/(from) reserves(4,396)
Budget requirement 2020/21141,548


These are the bodies we pay levies to. These are set by the bodies and we do not have a choice in paying these.




Lee Valley Regional Park178,109177,859
Environment Agency: Flood defences170,601173,789
London Pensions Fund Authority257,530257,027
Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators342,822352,856
Total levies949,062961,531


We estimate our long-term borrowing to fund capital programme projects which help improve the borough's economic well-being, to be £113m as of 31 March 2020.

It is expected that this will reduce to £111m at 31 March 2021.

The interest charges arising on this amount are financed from the council's resources.


We estimate the number of staff we will employ (calculated on a full-time basis) in 2020/21  to be 1,867. This compares with a total of 1,819 in 2019/20.

Greater London Authority services

This guide explains how your Council Tax pays for Greater London Authority (GLA) services:

Your Council Tax and the Greater London Authority (2020-21)

Empty Homes Premium

From 1 April 2015 we charge 50% extra for properties that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for two years or more.

From 1 April 2019 we charge 100% extra for properties that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for two years or more.

From 1 April 2020 we charge 200% extra for properties that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for five years or more.

Reductions, appeals and support

If you think there has been a mistake calculating your bill, or that your home is in the wrong valuation band, please see Council Tax Appeals.

You might be entitled to a reduced bill depending on who lives in the property: see Council Tax Discounts and Reductions.

Some types of property are exempt from Council Tax: see Council Tax Exemptions.

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to Council Tax Support.