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What your council tax pays for

Each year we are responsible for collecting council tax from Cambridge residents, which helps to fund the work of local councils and emergency services.

Council tax is a property-based tax which is payable on most domestic properties. A domestic property is usually a house or a flat, but it also means other types of property where people can live, such as a houseboat or a caravan.

The council tax you pay is divided between the county council, the police and crime commissioner, the fire authority, and the city council. In 2018/19 our share is 11.22%.

This table shows how the money is divided, as an amount and as a percentage of the total.

How council tax is split among authorities, based on a Band D property
Authority Amount Percentage
County council £1,249.83 73.12%
Police and crime commissioner £198.72 11.63%
City council £191.75 11.22%
Fire authority £68.76 4.03%
Total £1,709.06 100%

The figures quoted above are based on a council tax payment of £1,709.06 for a Band D property in 2018/19.

The county council amount of £1,249.83 includes £69.98 to be used for adult social care.

Our income

We spend almost £100 million each year to deliver services in Cambridge. We receive income from fees and charges for services, property rents and housing benefit subsidy.

Service Income
Council tax £8.2m
Other £7.5m
Government grants £6.1m
Government subsidy for housing benefits £37m
Fees, charges and other income £26.6m
Rent income from commercial properties £8.4m
Business rates £5.1m

Income also comes from your council tax payments, grants from the government, reserves, and a share of local business rates. In addition, we are landlord to more than 7,000 council homes, and the rents from these are kept separately to pay for housing services.

Our expenditure

Service Expenditure
Corporate and democratic management costs £2.7m
Central services including land charges, elections and local tax collection £1.7m
Cultural and related services including arts and recreation, parks and open spaces and community centres £8.8m
Environmental and regulatory services including bin collections, street cleaning and environmental health £16m
Planning and development services £8m
Car parks and transport related services £7m
Housing benefits £37m
Housing services (excluding council housing) £6.5m
Commercial property £1.4m
Capital and other expenditure £5.2m
Reserves - money set aside to pay for services in future years £4.3m

In 2017/18 your council tax helped to pay for a wide range of services for Cambridge residents, including:

  • Emptying your bins and improving recycling – Our new shared waste service collected just over 50,000 tonnes of materials for recycling from the blue and green bins and recycling points across Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.
  • Providing leisure facilities including indoor and outdoor swimming pools – Last year we refurbished tennis courts at Lammas Land, provided free swimming sessions to a record number of families on low income and extended our programme of free exercise referrals.
  • Keeping streets and open spaces clean and tidy – We routinely maintained over one million square metres of grass, collected waste from bins in parks and open spaces, responded to 543 reports of graffiti, and investigated 1,510 incidents of fly tipping.
  • Providing community centres, community development activities and a community grants programme – Our community grants programme for 2017/18 allocated £900,000 to voluntary and community groups for projects reducing social and economic disadvantage for city residents with the highest need.
  • Dealing with antisocial behaviour and calls about noise nuisance – We dealt with 318 cases of antisocial behaviour, 119 of which involved intensive casework. Our Environmental Health service responded to 1,735 complaints about noise nuisance and served 29 abatement notices in more serious cases.
  • Providing housing advice and support – The council and its partners prevented or relieved homelessness for 1,110 households.
  • Collecting local taxes, and administering housing benefit and support for Council Tax – Last year we collected £69.5m in council tax from 56,883 households and £106.7m in business rates from 4,446 businesses. We paid out £38.4m in housing benefit and £6.24m in Council Tax support.
  • Planning for new developments and growth in the city and determining planning applications – We dealt with just over 1,475 planning applications.
  • Managing car parks – We spent £1.6m on structural and equipment improvements in multi-storey car parks, improving drainage and replacing deck coating, to make the customer experience better.
  • Organising elections and managing the electoral register – We organised elections to the county council and for parliament.
  • Responding to your enquiries – Our customer service centre handled over 213,000 telephone calls, 57,000 face-to-face enquiries and 62,000 email transactions.

Services we provide

Cultural, Environmental, Regulatory and Planning Services

Community, Arts and Recreation

Providing and managing community centres, neighbourhood community development activity, children and young people's services, arts and sports development, recreation and swimming facilities and the Council's outdoor event programme. Managing the council's relationship with Cambridge Live, the organization responsible for running the Corn Exchange and Cambridge Folk Festival.

Economic Development

Management of commercial properties and the local markets

Environmental Health and Protection

Monitoring and enforcing food hygiene standards. Control of pests, diseases, noise and air pollution. Licensing of taxis, liquor and gambling.

Planning and Development Control

Dealing with planning and building control applications. Managing and planning for growth in the city.

Climate Change and Sustainability

Working to reduce the council's own production of CO2 and to reduce the impact of climate change on Cambridge.

Streets and Open Spaces

Managing the city's parks and open spaces, keeping them and the streets clean. Provision and management of play areas, allotments, residential moorings and public toilets.

Waste Management

Collection of household and trade waste and promoting recycling through the shared waste service created with South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Other services

Including CCTV and the city's cemeteries and crematorium.

Highways and Transport

Parking Services

Provision of off-street car parks

Sustainable Transport Initiatives

Encouraging cycling and walking. Support for public transport, including Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride.

Housing Services

Private Sector Housing

Encouraging and enabling the private sector to maintain the standard of its properties and promoting energy efficiency.


Working to enable the provision of new affordable housing.


Working to prevent homelessness and reduce rough sleeping.

Other services

Including housing advice, maintaining the housing needs register and providing more choice in social housing, tackling anti-social behaviour and promoting community safety.

Central Services to the Public


Running local and national elections and maintaining the electoral register.

Local Tax Collection

Collecting Council Tax for our own services and on behalf of the County Council, The Fire Authority, the Police and Crime Commissioner and national Business Rates Collection.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

Payment of Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax Support to those on a low income, whether they are working or not. This includes pensioners.

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