From the UK to Australia: Council Tax Bills and Rates Compared

Rates, council tax, community charge, poll tax, whatever you want to call it, if you live in a house, you have to pay some kind of tax.

TaxIn the UK this tax is called the Council Tax and here in Australia, certainly in Brisbane, it is known as Council Rates and Charges.

Comparing UK Council Tax with Australian Rates

If only I could, but it would be quite an impossible task. When you compare one thing with another, it’s a good idea to go ‘like-for-like’.

Here in Australia we have six states and two territories which between them contain over 561 different local governments by way of boroughs, cities, councils, district councils, municipalities, regional councils, rural cities, shires, towns, community government councils, Aboriginal shires, island councils and ‘unincorporated’, whatever that is.

In the UK there are 433 principal authorities in the UK: 27 county councils, 55 unitary authorities, 32 London boroughs, 36 Metropolitan boroughs, 201 districts, 32 Scottish unitary authorities, 22 Welsh unitary authorities and 26 Northern Ireland districts.

My thanks to Wikipedia for the info on both Australia and the UK.

The point is, how can I possibly compare like for like? Almost 1000 different authorities charging different amounts of money and providing vastly differing services.


Tax DollarsOn top of that, Council Tax in the UK is based on property valuations as at 1 April 1991 and split into eight bands. Band D is regarded as average, but if you lived in a more expensive house you would pay more or if your houses value is less than average you pay less.

All UK Council Tax figures quoted in this article relate to Band D.

Here in Brisbane, rates are based on land values and are revised each year and I’m pretty sure that’s how it works elsewhere as well.

So comparisons really are impossible. So let’s do one then.

Council Tax UK and Rates Australia Compared

The UK

When I was in the UK I lived in a small town called Billericay which came under Basildon District Council. Here in Australia, I live in the western suburbs of Brisbane and therefore under Brisbane City Council.

Are the two comparable?

Both places are what I would call ‘nice areas’; good schools, pleasant housing, good facilities, nice people, clean streets, reasonable services and the rubbish gets picked up every week, so in that respect they are similar. The weather here is much hotter, but that’s not thanks to the Council.

The thing is though, with Council Tax and Rates, it’s nothing much to do with comparable areas, it’s more to do with how efficient the Council is with your money. Believe it or not, in the UK 2014–15 the cheapest Council Tax (based on Band D) in the whole of the UK was in Westminster, slap bang in the middle of London, at just £678.14. The most expensive was from the local authority of Weymouth and Portland in the County of Dorset at £1726.04. My thanks to The Telegraph for those gems.

That’s a massive difference.

According to the UK government the average Council Tax in the UK last year was £1468.

Let’s put what we know so far into a small table:

Council Tax UK 2014/15 (Band D)

  • Most expensive – £1726
  • Least expensive – £678
  • Average – £1468


Getting similar averages for Australia isn’t so easy. For example, I could find very little information on rates and charges in New South Wales.

I found an interesting document issued by MAV from which I could calculate that average rates in Victoria for 2014/15 were $1650.

The most comprehensive information I found though was from where I live, Brisbane. Brisbane City Council have charted the rates for every single authority in the area.

According to the Courier Mail last week Brisbane rates have risen by 2.5% for this coming year, an average of $32, taking the average rates bill to $1322 per year. By simple maths that means in Brisbane for the year we are looking at, 2014/15, average rates were $1290.

The Brisbane Times has listed the rates for each and every one of those 183 suburbs and a quick scan of the figures reveals that the suburb of Inala has the cheapest rates at $683 and the most expensive rates were in Chandler at $2538.

Wow! That’s a massive difference again.

Let’s put that into another small table:

Rates, Brisbane City Council 2014/15

  • Most expensive – $2538
  • Least expensive – $683
  • Average – $1290

Finally, just for the record, if I still lived in the UK I would be currently paying Basildon District Council £1553 for a Band D property per year, where I now live in western suburbs of Brisbane my rates are $1224.


ratesAt the moment the exchange rate is pretty much two Australian dollars to one British pound. So from my point of view, there is no debate, rates in Australia are much cheaper. I would be paying over $3100 if my rates were as high as they were in the UK, that’s more than 2 1/2 times what I’m paying now.

That’s an absolutely massive difference!

I can also tell you that:

  • The UK’s most expensive Council Tax bill is 36% more expensive than Brisbane’s highest bill
  • The UK’s lowest Council Tax bill is almost double that of the lowest in Brisbane
  • The average UK Council Tax bill is more than double that of the Brisbane average
  • The average UK Council Tax bill is over 77% higher than the average bill in Victoria

These are surely mind-boggling figures?

How much do you pay?

I did say at the beginning of this article that this was an impossible comparison, and it is. I do realise that what I’ve done here is in no way a definitive guide in comparing rates and Council Tax between the UK and Australia, but it’s the best I could do.

What I really wanted to do though was open up the debate. You can join in in the comments below, simply tell us where you live and how much you pay each year in rates. Also, what’s included? My rates bill does not include water and sewerage, I pay that separately, and I’m pretty sure that’s the case in the UK as well.

So, come on, what are you paying?

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • HKW September 14, 2016, 8:34 am | Link
    • BobinOz September 15, 2016, 12:04 am | Link

      Yes, good luck with that one 🙂

  • HKW September 14, 2016, 8:32 am | Link

    I have only two questions:
    Can you now compare average salary between these two countries?
    And what about those less fortunate on welfare in England and Australia?

    • BobinOz September 15, 2016, 12:02 am | Link

      I can’t answer the welfare question, that, as always, really does depend on each individual’s circumstances and if any help is going to be offered, it can only be calculated by the welfare departments in each country.

      As for salaries though, I’ve done that…

      • HKW September 15, 2016, 8:49 am | Link

        Thanks for the link.
        The welfare is incomparable as the UK assistance is much better then Australian.
        I must admit, that I suspect this article is in defense of rising council rates in Australia, which idsbecoming a pain indeed to those less fortunate.
        Australia’s standard of living is sliding down to the level of undeveloped countries.

        • BobinOz September 15, 2016, 7:45 pm | Link

          I’m not really sure what your agenda is here HKW, or why you thought it necessary to add two links to the bottom of your most recent comment which just repeat the exact same information you’ve already given us in an earlier comment link about the (apparently) illegal rates system in Australia.

          If you look at all the other comments made here about how much people are paying for rates, you will see that they are much more expensive in the UK than they are here in Australia.

          As for suggesting Australia’s living standards are sliding down to undeveloped country standards, yes, SHAME, on you that is. Absolute piffle.

          By the way, if everybody did stop paying their rates, then I’m sure living standards would fall rather rapidly, so I’m really not sure you are thinking this through.

  • Marc October 18, 2015, 10:14 pm | Link

    I have two houses:

    1. House in Donvale, Victoria, valued at $525,000: rates in 2015:
    $1571.90 including waste collection, excluding water.

    2. House in Bundaberg, Queensland, valued at $127,000: rates in 2015:
    $3146.60 including waste collection, water and sewerage
    $2017.40 including waste collection only (use this number to compare to Victoria)

    So for some strange reason the rates per house valua are 4 times as high in regional Bundaberg than in a wealthy Melbourne Suburb

    • BobinOz October 19, 2015, 5:37 pm | Link


      My only guess would be that maybe with the higher density living in Donvale, the council are able to keep the costs down per household. Whereas maybe over in Bundaberg with its lower density and greater distances between houses, the council needs more per house to offer the same or similar services.

      But, as I say, I’m guessing.

  • Mat July 12, 2015, 5:17 pm | Link

    Burton-upon-Trent – East Staffordshire. 2 bedroom flat value approx £100,000 – Council tax Band B = £1,152 per annum including borough, county, police and fire. Rubbish collection is provided fortnightly by borough council at no extra charge.

    Ferntree Gully – Knox City – Victoria. 2 bedroom unit value approx $300,000 – Council Rates = $1,187 including fire, landfill levy and free weekly collection of 80 litre rubbish bin and fortnightly collection of a 240 litre recycling bin. Bigger bins cost more but an 80 litre rubbish bin is sufficient for a couple with 1 child. A green waste bin costs extra and is also collected fortnightly but isn’t required in a unit.

    Australia is clearly the winner on this one.

    • BobinOz July 12, 2015, 9:28 pm | Link

      Thanks Mat, interesting comparison and it is following the pattern we are clearly seeing develop here. Australia appears to be the winner most, if not all of the time. Cheers, Bob

  • Wayne Baker June 30, 2015, 11:19 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    We’ve just moved out of our modest home in the UK (Oldham in the North West) where we were apparently in Band D, therefore £1603 for 2015. The rates look ridiculous in comparison – the bin collection service in our area switched to fortnightly (Food/garden bins collected every week) and the borough we were in was one of the poorer areas in the UK, yet we had clearly one of the most expensive council tax rates…

    We’ve finally got all of our flights booked, temporary accommodation sorted and now just need to organise a temporary car and we should be good to go once we land in Brissie on 24th July! Can’t wait to get started on a house hunt – we’re looking around The Gap as it looks beautiful.

    • BobinOz July 1, 2015, 9:49 pm | Link

      Congratulations on your pending arrival in Brisbane, may I be the first to welcome you to weekly rubbish collections at half the price 🙂 happy househunting, I hope you find somewhere that’s perfect for you.

  • Dan June 26, 2015, 5:24 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I now live in North Notts in a nice little village 4 bed detached and our council tax is £1300 a year !!! Bins collected alternet weeks one week general one week recycling. The silly thing is I was brough up in Australia lived the Bayside of Brisbane, Redlands area, Cleveland Victoria point Redland Bay , I came to the UK with work not intending to stay and met my now wife here!!! Been in the UK since March 2007, im so desperate to get back home, but it’s taking along time convincing my wife, we have two children here, I know how much I loved growing up in Australia and want my kids to experience it!!! Guess I’ll just keep badgering the wife until she gives in lol! ????????❤️❤️?

    • BobinOz June 26, 2015, 8:14 pm | Link

      Dan, it must be true love for you to give up Australia for her 🙂

      Don’t give up, I’m sure you will talk her around in the end, and I agree you, I too would rather bring up my daughter here them back in the UK. Australia is perfect for kids.

      Good luck, I’m sure you will talk around in the end.

  • SwC_UK June 25, 2015, 9:30 pm | Link

    As you say Bob, comparisson is very difficult becuase I think different countries would over different costs in their rates/council tax. In the UK we pay for police and fire. Is that the same in Brisbane, or is that funded by central taxation. In Australia you also have state government in the mix, on top of Fedral government and local councile. In the UK we clearly don’t have that. I think Central Government in the UK also top up the Council Tax, or at least, they used to – i.e. councils have dual funding (although I could be wrong on that).

    So as an example, would you be able to list what your rates pay for in Brisbane and what your Council Tax would get you in Billericay?

    What I will say, is that the state of the local roads and facilities where I live here in the UK are a disgrace, compared to what you get in the smallest town in rural Queensland. Yet I’m paying £2500 a year in Council Tax, and it’s a very wealthy area. So something somewhere does not add up.

    • BobinOz June 26, 2015, 12:28 am | Link

      Yes, comparisons are very difficult, and I know what you mean, you are wondering whether the money we are saving with our lower rates counts for nothing because we have to pay additional taxes elsewhere.

      It’s a valid question, and one that is very difficult to answer simply because the answer is so complicated and takes a good deal of research. What I do know is that what Basildon District Council give you for your money is listed on this page…

      It was a bit harder to find a similar thing for Brisbane City Council, but I did find a list of what they spend their money on…

      If you read my post called Australian Politics Explained…

      You will see that it is state government that covers the costs of police and fire services, but as far as I am aware state government doesn’t tax me directly, I just pay things like stamp duty on buying and selling a house, car registrations, insurance, property transfer, mortgages, but these aren’t everyday things.

      Then there is a payroll tax, I don’t really know much about that. Here in Queensland I think you need to be earning over $1 million a year to pay it. That’s probably why I know nothing about it 🙂

      Then there is land tax, but that doesn’t apply to your principal residence, so you need to own land elsewhere and it needs to be worth more than $432,000 as at 2015.

      So none of these additional taxes bother the average man much. Then we have Federal government and they mainly collect income tax and that compares quite favourably with the UK income tax system. See…

      So unless I’m missing something, I’m really not sure how other countries local governments can justify some of the council tax/rates they are charging just to provide local services which appear to be so much higher than what we pay here. But maybe I am missing something, and if I am, I would be more than happy to somebody to point out to me.

  • Ronny June 25, 2015, 5:08 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    I live in France, actually in Lyon (3rd biggest city). I’m living in the inner city and the “council tax” is proportional to the size of the accomodation. Mine is a 90 m² and the tax is approx. 1800 euros (1280 £ or 2600 AUD). It’s mostly used for the municipality services (sewerage, rubbish) and the maintenance of infrastructures (roads and state buildings (school, police, public hospitals,…)).
    In addition to this tax I pay an annual “property tax” (because I own the appartment) and this one is proportional to the income. But I had to mention that second tax because it highly increases the global amount of the taxes any french citizen – that own his accomodation – has to pay, and this increase is not bound to any additional service.

    • BobinOz June 25, 2015, 11:04 pm | Link

      Ronny, there is an English expression, at least I think it’s English, but I have no idea where it comes from. It’s ‘paying through the nose’. It means paying far too much money and this is what is happening to you in France with all your taxes.

      Sacré bleu! is I think what you would say.

  • N. Frost June 25, 2015, 9:01 am | Link

    We are in Somerset about half an hour south of Bristol. Lovely village, nice little school etc. Bins collected every other week for rubbish (hard going even with a family of 3) with recycling every week. We pay around £1400 a year for our council tax so coming to top end so along with much more than your Oz averages I don’t feel it offers good value either. Hoping to make the big move next year. Loving your work!

    • BobinOz June 25, 2015, 10:48 pm | Link

      They only pick up your actual rubbish once a week? I was going to say that’s bad, but here in Brisbane whilst our rubbish gets picked up every week, our recycling is just once a fortnight, so yours is just the other way round.

      We get quite large wheelie bins though, so to be fair once a fortnight for the recycling is plenty. £1400 is a lot though, hope your plans to move to Australia workout.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Angelique Fairbrass June 25, 2015, 4:20 am | Link

    I come under Wirral Borough Council, live in a Band B and pay £1096.

    • BobinOz June 25, 2015, 10:44 pm | Link

      Quite expensive Angelique, but look on the bright side, if you lived in Basildon in a Band B house, you’d be paying £1208 :-). Thanks, I appreciate you letting us know.


  • Todd June 24, 2015, 11:01 pm | Link

    Not sure what taxes would compare, but here in rural upstate New York I pay a combined property and school tax of over $6000 (7751.64AUD per Mr. Google) a year. We are very rural, live on a tar and stone road, have a well, septic and pay privately for trash service. You can imagine my pleasure at having been invited to apply for a visa. Our house and property is well below the median assessment in the US (over $200,000) at $157,000. Because we a re so rural, the tax base is small and our assessed rate per thousand dollars of property values is higher than it would be in other areas. Hoping to be in Geelong before next spring’s tax bill comes due.

    • BobinOz June 25, 2015, 12:23 am | Link

      Interesting comment Todd because I was talking to my wife earlier about this very post I’ve written today and saying how even I was shocked at how much cheaper our rates are here compared to what we would have still been paying back in the UK.

      She said that it is so difficult to compare because you get different things, which is exactly what I’ve said in this article, but specifically she said that schooling was free in the UK but here in Australia, even though our daughter goes to state school, they are always asking for money.

      But it’s money for books, stationary, uniforms, they asked for donations, they have uniform free days which they ask for a couple of dollars for, they sometimes ask for additional money if your child is taking part in a specific sport or playing a musical instrument, that sort of thing. My wife doesn’t know exactly how much, but I would be very surprised if it was more than around $300-$400 a year.

      Your tax includes a school tax, and your tax is hugely expensive, and you’re not even getting your trash taken away! I would say your tax is very high.

      Hope you make it to Geelong soon 🙂

      • Bawinheed February 20, 2016, 6:09 am | Link

        Looks like i’m your first comment of 2016. It’s good to see someone highlighting how expensive it’s becoming to live in the west. It’s not quite correct to say that schooling is free in the UK although websites will often incorrectly say that it’s free of charge. What they should say it’s that it’s free of any extra charge. State schooling in the UK is funded through local and national taxation. In reality, it’s pre-paid. In some regions of the UK, primary/elementary schools do the same as you say they do there to raise extra funds. Keep up the good work mate!

        • BobinOz February 22, 2016, 5:25 pm | Link

          Well, yes, you are correct, anything that any government provides for ‘free’ is paid for somewhere along the line through taxes, whether that’s income tax, council tax, rates, local taxes or whatever.

          Fair point 🙂 cheers, Bob

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