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What your Council Tax pays for

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 property-based and is payable on most domestic properties. This is usually a house or a flat, but it can also mean 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 2019/20 our share is 10.95%.

How Council Tax is split among authorities, based on a Band D property
Authority 2018/19 2019/20 Increase Share
County council £1,249.83 £1,312.11 4.983% 72.77%
Police and crime commissioner £198.72 £222.66 12.047% 12.35%
City council £191.75 £197.50 2.997% 10.95%
Fire authority £68.76 £70.74 2.88% 3.92%
Total £1,709.06 £1,803.01 5.5% 100%

The figures quoted above are based on a Council Tax payment of £1,803.01 for a Band D property in 2019/20. Figures from 2018/19 and the percentage increase are shown for comparison.

The county council amount of £1,312.11 includes £94.98 to be used for adult social care.

All changes have been set in accordance with the Referendums Relating to Council Tax Increases (Principles) (England) Report 2019/20, which specifies maximum increases by authority.

Our income

We spend approximately £98 million each year delivering services in Cambridge.

We receive income from fees and charges for services, commercial property rents and Housing Benefit subsidy. Income also comes from your Council Tax payments, grants from the government and a share of local business rates.

We are landlord to more than 7,000 council homes, and the rents from these are kept separately to pay for housing services.

Pie chart showing council income

Service Income
Housing Benefit subsidy £36.9m
Fees, charges and other income £21.5m
Council Tax £8.6m
Commercial property rent charges £8.4m
Other £7.3m
Government grants £5.5m
Business rates £5.3m
Commercial initiatives £4.8m
Total income £98.3m

Our expenditure

Pie chart showing council expenditure

Service Expenditure
Housing Benefit £37m
Environmental and regulatory services including bin collections, street cleaning and environmental health £16m
Cultural and related services including arts and recreation, parks and open spaces and community centres £8.9m
Planning and development services £7.8m
Car parks and transport related services £7m
Housing services (excluding council housing) £6.6m
Capital contributions and other expenditure £5m
Reserves – including money set aside to pay for services in future years £4.3m
Corporate and democratic management costs £2.4m
Central services including land charges, elections and local tax collection £1.7m
Commercial property £1.6m
Total expenditure £98.3m

In 2018/19 your Council Tax helped to pay for a wide range of services for Cambridge residents, including:

  • Emptying your bins and improving recycling – Our shared waste service collected just over 52,000 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 – During the year there were just over 600,000 casual swims in our swimming pools and just over 200,000 visits to our sports facilities. 30,000 of the total visits were made by people with concessionary memberships.
  • Keeping streets and open spaces clean and tidy – We routinely maintained over one million square metres of grass and collected waste from bins in parks and open spaces. We responded to 415 reports of graffiti and investigated 1,070 incidents of flytipping. We also responded to 440 reports of abandoned cars and issued 440 fixed penalty notices for littering.
  • Providing community centres, community development activities and a community grants programme – Just over 125,000 visits were made to our community centres and our community grants programme allocated £857,000 to voluntary and community groups for projects to reduce social and economic disadvantage for residents with the greatest need.
  • Dealing with antisocial behaviour and calls about noise nuisance – We dealt with 629 reports of antisocial behaviour, 107 of which involved intensive casework. Our Environmental Health Service responded to 1,796 complaints about noise nuisance and served 24 abatement notices in more serious cases.
  • Providing housing advice and support – We and our partners prevented or relieved homelessness for 1,200 households.
  • Collecting local taxes, and administering housing benefit and support for Council Tax – We collected £74.9m in Council Tax from over 57,000 homes and £111.9m in business rates from over 4,500 businesses. We paid out £36.3m in Housing Benefit and awarded £6.5m in Council Tax support.
  • Planning for new developments and growth in the city and determining planning applications – In 2018 we adopted the Cambridge Local Plan incorporating the main modifications arising from its inspection by a government inspector. We dealt with over 1,600 planning applications.
  • Managing car parks – There were just over 2.3 million visits made to our multi-storey car parks. We continued to invest in improvements and agreed a new pricing structure. This will seek to maintain value for money while encouraging people to use other forms of transportation to help reduce peak-time congestion and improve air quality.
  • Organising elections and managing the electoral register – We organised elections for the city council and contributed to the boundary review of city wards.
  • Responding to your enquiries – Our customer service centre handled over 200,000 telephone calls, 58,500 face-to-face enquiries and 58,500 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 our outdoor event programme. Supporting 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.
  • Development – Working to enable the provision of new affordable housing.
  • Homelessness – 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

  • Elections – 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.