Nearly half of all households in the UK are now charged higher council tax rates than those levied on Buckingham Palace, recent data reveals. Approximately 46% of households, or 11.6 million homes, currently pay more than the £1,828 band H council tax rate for the King’s Westminster residence, up from 32% (7.5 million homes) in 2011-2012.

In Rutland, which has the highest council tax rates in Britain, a home in the same tax band will pay £4,843 this year – more than double the amount charged for Buckingham Palace. Other expensive council tax areas include Lewes in Sussex, Gateshead in Kent, Nottingham, Dorset, and Oxford, all of which will see band H properties charged more than £4,660 this year.

Since 2012, the average council tax in Westminster has increased by just £211. In contrast, places like Elmbridge in Surrey and Wokingham in Berkshire have seen increases of £742 over the same period, according to an analysis of figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The current council tax system, based on property valuations from the early 1990s, has not seen significant reform despite substantial changes in house prices. Calls for a review of this system have been resisted by successive governments, as revaluation could result in significantly higher bills, particularly in London and the South East. The Institute of Fiscal Studies has called the current system “indefensible.”

The government rejected calls for reform on Thursday, arguing that changes would be costly and could penalise pensioners on low incomes who might not afford higher bills. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, stated, “Any sort of fundamental reform at this stage would probably risk a level of instability in the system that would not justify any of the potential benefits.”

In contrast, the Welsh government announced a consultation in November on revaluing properties for council tax purposes for the first time in nearly 20 years, aiming to create a fairer tax system.

While the main body of Buckingham Palace pays business rates instead of council tax, several properties within the palace, such as the Royal Lodge and the Gardeners Lodge, are charged band H council tax according to the City of Westminster Council. Other properties within the Royal Mews, including the Chief Clerk’s apartment and the “Surgery Flat,” fall into council tax bands G and F, respectively.

Richard Smallwood, a plumber from Lewes, expressed his shock at the increase in his council tax since moving from Westminster to East Sussex in 2009. “We moved from London, from Westminster, so we were paying hardly anything. The services there, I took it for granted, having lived there for ages. I never really thought about it being an unmanageable cost or not good value because it is such good value there. If anything, we probably didn’t need the services as much there,” he said. Smallwood now pays more than £2,000 for his band E, four-bedroom house.

John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle, criticised the current system, stating, “The current system does seem to be unfairly affecting those who live in more modest homes and have more modest incomes. There is an inequality in the council tax system that does need a fundamental overhaul.” Stevenson noted that he pays nearly £2,700 a year on his home in Carlisle, almost £1,000 more than the rate charged on Buckingham Palace.

Andrew Dixon, chairman of the campaign group Fairer Share, added, “People up and down the UK are sick to the back teeth of council tax. They overwhelmingly want a fairer system in its place that reflects the true value of their homes.”

Buckingham Palace was contacted for comment.

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