What your council tax pays for

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.

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
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%

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.

City council expenditure

It costs us £95 million to deliver services. After taking into account our income – including fees and charges for services, property rents and housing benefit subsidy – our net expenditure is £16.1 million.

This net expenditure is met by council tax, central government grants, general and earmarked reserves, and a local share of business rates.

The business rates retention scheme enables us to benefit directly from supporting local business growth and the resulting growth in business rates income. We are able to keep half of our share of any growth in local business rates.

Please note the expenditure chart does not include the figure of 15,000 for 'Adjustments for previous year's council tax collection', which is comparatively too small to be represented as a segment. 

What your council tax helped pay for in 2017/18

Emptying your bins and improving your recycling services

  • 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
  • Six community clear-up days were carried out

Providing a range of leisure facilities including indoor and outdoor swimming pools

  • We improved the facilities at Cherry Hinton Recreation Ground Pavilion
  • We refurbished the tennis courts at Lammas Land 
  • Abbey Pool saw the introduction of new energy efficiency measures
  • Our free swimming sessions for families living on a low income were attended by a record number of people
  • We extended our offer of free exercise referrals and seven of the city’s GP practices now participate
  • 22 outdoor table tennis tables are now installed in our open spaces, as well as 15 roll away tables in different community settings
  • Seven weekly Street Game activities were delivered in disadvantaged communities during the year, and 10 young athletes receive a Sir Arthur Marshall Future Champions grant

Providing community centres, community development activities and a community grants programme

  • Our council-run community centres continued to offer activity programs, places to meet and a range of spaces available for hire
  • 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 needs

Dealing with antisocial behaviour (ASB) and calls about noise nuisance

  • We dealt with 318 cases of antisocial behaviour, 119 of which involved intensive casework
  • Our Environmental Health department 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

Planning for new developments and growth in the city and determining planning applications

  • We dealt with just over 1,475 planning applications
  • Our new Local Plan for Cambridge, which will provide a vision for growth and guide new development until 2031, was independently examined during the year

Managing car parks and the Shopmobility service

  • 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
  • We carried out other essential repairs and installed energy efficient lighting and recharging facilities to encourage electric vehicles and sought to discourage long-stay parking, to help make the city cleaner and greener

Organising elections and managing the electoral register

  • We organised elections to the county council and for the national parliamentary elections
  • We published the register of electors, enabling just over 90,800 people to exercise their right to vote

Responding to your enquiries

  • Our Customer Service Centre handled over 213,000 telephone calls, 57,000 face-to-face enquiries, 62,000 email transactions and dealt with 27 complaints relating to the centre.
  • The council continued to use its customer feedback system to help identify improvements.

Keeping streets and open spaces clean and tidy

  • We routinely maintained over 1million square meters of grass and regularly collected waste from litter bins and dog fouling bins in our parks and open spaces.
  • We looked into 410 reports of abandoned cars and removed 45 from the highway as a result of our inquiries.
  • We responded to 543 reports of detrimental graffiti, cleaning the affected areas, and investigated 1,510 incidents of fly-tipping.
  • Across all wards of the city we removed 935 derelict cycles and issued 873 warning letters for environmental offences, carrying out 42 prosecutions for environmental crimes and non-payment of fixed penalties.

Responding to Freedom of Information requests

  • We responded to 826 requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act - an increase over the previous year.

Collecting local taxes and administering housing benefit and support for council tax

  • We were responsible for collecting £74.9m in council tax from 56,883 households, and £111.7m in business rates from 4,446 businesses
  • We paid £38.4m in housing benefit and £6.24m in council tax support
  • In total, there are approximately 8,100 people who receive financial help with paying their rent or council tax

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.

Contact us

Revenue Services (Council tax)

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