THE council has been accused of misleading the public on its council tax bills after showing the wrong percentage increase.

Residents got in touch with the Gazette to highlight an ‘error’ on their council tax bill which showed that the increase for Hampshire County Council was wrong by a huge 13.2 per cent.

Julian Ranger, from Cliddesden, complained to the council after his bill showed an increase of three per cent for Hampshire County Council tax from the previous year, when the actual percentage increase was 3.45 per cent.

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The bill showed an increase of two per cent for Hampshire County Council adult social care, when the actual increase from the previous year was a whopping 15.23 per cent.

“Are Hampshire County Council trying to hide the true percentage increases this year or is this some error in your systems?” he asked, adding: “If you have made a mistake in my case then I suspect you have made a mistake in everyone’s case which will mean a mass apology and re-mail out.”

He pointed out that he is not questioning the increase itself, but the ‘dishonesty’.

The county council has responded admitting that the way the council tax is broken down on a bill is “not ideal” adding: “We completely understand why people would interpret it in this way which is why we keep writing to the government asking them to change this.”

It confirmed that Mr Ranger’s calculations are correct based on the figures shown on his council tax bill when comparing these to last year’s bill.

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However, it said the confusion is caused because it has to split the council tax on the bill showing one for HCC and one for HCC adult social care.

This means when comparing the percentage increase for each individual element of the HCC council tax to last year, the figures are incorrect.

HCC explained that the percentage increase is actually calculated based on the total increase of both Hampshire County Council’s tax and the adult social care precept.

A spokesperson added: “While we appreciate the way the council tax is broken down on a bill is not ideal, it is correct. The format of the bills is prescribed in government legislation so every local authority must follow this same format.

“We, along with many other councils, have raised concerns about this with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities but until there is a change in the law, we are required to split the council tax for Hampshire County Council into two separate lines on bills: one for adult social care pressures and the second for all of the county council’s service.”

This means that the increase of two per cent shown for the adult social care precept is an increase of the total HCC council tax, not the individual amounts shown on the bill. The increase of three per cent is again for the total increase for HCC council tax.

On Mr Ranger’s bill, the increase should show 15 per cent for adult social care and 3.45 per cent for HCC when compared to the previous year’s bill.

Mr Ranger believes the council should re-issue the bills, saying: “You must be honest with those paying those bills and show true percentage increases not false.”

HCC was asked why it does not show the correct percentage increase on the bills. 

It said: "Councils are required by law to show the percentages in a different way. This is to demonstrate how much of the overall increase in council tax is allocated specifically to adult social care."

It added: "While we understand that having to list the adult social care element separately may therefore cause confusion, we are simply not able to present the information in any other way."

For more information visit Hampshire County Council's website.