'Amazing' Martin Lewis tip secures woman £7,000 refund after 20-year problem

A woman has shared her success story of how she followed a tip and secured a £7,000 refund. The woman, called Zoe, wrote in to Mr Lewis’ ITV show, saying: “We have been in our home for 20 years and had always felt we were in the wrong council tax band.

“We tried years ago to get this remedied with no luck. After your advice we tried again earlier this year. To our delight we had success and were refunded around £7,000! Amazing!”

Delighted with her result, Mr Lewis told viewers: “Check and challenge your banding, everyone.”

Now is a good time to check as council tax bills in many parts of England are expected to increase by the maximum five percent in April – with some councils seeking even bigger hikes.

How can I challenge my council tax bill?

There are two vital stages to go through before you challenge your council tax band. The first is to compare your property with similar homes in your area, and to find out if they are in a lower band.

This can be done online through the Valuation Office Agency website for a property in England and Wales, or through the Scottish Assessors Association website for a home in Scotland.

You will then need to check how much your house was worth in 1991, as this determined which band your house was put in.

A person can establish this by finding out the current value of the property and using a calculator to see how much it would have been when the system was put in place.

This step is crucial to do before challenging your tax band, as if you don’t, you neighbours in similar properties could instead be moved up and end up paying more.

Mr Lewis said previously: “My big warning: only do this if you pass both checks. The fact that you are in a higher band because of all your neighbours may be because they are in too low of a band.

“So if the valuation check is not completed, you may not get your band lowered, but everyone will get their band increased which won’t make you popular. But this is really important to do.”

Some cash-strapped councils are set to increase their council tax by 10 percent, including Birmingham, Slough, Thurrock and Woking.

A survey from the Local Government Association found almost one in five councils think it is likely they will have to issue a section 114 notice due to a shortfall in funding.

Councillor Shaun Davies, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “No council is now immune to the growing risk to their financial sustainability.

“The Government urgently needs to address the growing financial crisis facing councils and come up with a long-term plan to sufficiently fund local services through multi-year settlements.”

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