About council tax and how it is spent

Find out more about our latest budget and council tax precepts.

Council tax harmonisation

The creation of North Yorkshire Council means that there is a legal requirement to make sure all council taxpayers in the county are charged the same amount based on the council tax band of their home.

The move to unify all council tax bills across all of North Yorkshire will be spread over the next two financial years as some areas are paying higher charges than others.

The average increase for council tax is 4.99% for 2023/24, which includes a 2.99% in general council tax and a 2% increase for adult social care. However, the work to unify all bills will mean some residents will pay more than the average rise and some will pay less.

Council tax increases are subject to referendum limits. This means that the government in effect sets an upper level to increases. If a council wishes to exceed those limits then it requires a referendum of local residents to approve the increase. For 2023/24 the government confirmed this limit as 2.99% for general council tax and 2% for the adult social care precept.

For areas like North Yorkshire going through reorganisation these increases can be applied against the average charge across all the predecessor councils. So, in other words, the average of all the Band D council tax charges in 2022/23 from the eight councils which make up the new North Yorkshire Council. This figure is £1676.32.

The 4.99% increase and the referendum test apply to this figure which gives cash increases of:

  • general Council Tax (2.99% increase) - £50.12
  • Adult Social Care Precept (2.00% increase) - £33.52    

These increases apply equally to all areas.

The adult social care charge for 2023/24 will be the 2022/23 charge (£168.53) plus the increase above (£33.52) giving a new rate of £202.05 which will be the same for all Band D taxpayers.

But for general council tax, on top of this increase are adjustments for harmonising the rates (moving them towards the same charge for all North Yorkshire council taxpayers in a particular band).

For districts where their 2022/23 council tax charge was below the average there is an additional charge and for those where their bill exceeded the average there is a reduction as we move towards a single uniform charge.

This means while the overall increase is 2.99% the charge at individual district level will vary from this, both up and down.

To illustrate this for Hambleton residents:

2022/23 charge (Band D) General increase Harmonisation adjustment 2023/24 charge Increase
£1,418.30 £50.12 £44.66 £1,513.08 6.7%

The £44.66 basically represents half the gap between the 2022/23 charge for Hambleton and the overall average for North Yorkshire. Half because harmonisation will occur over two years.

The equivalent figures for all of the district areas are:

District 2022/23 charge (Band D) 2023/24 charge Increase
Harrogate £1,554.74 £1,581.12 1.7%
Scarborough £1,543.57 £1,575.18 2.1%
Richmondshire £1,523.82 £1,565.84 2.8%
Ryedale £1,504.45  £1,554.76 3.3%
Craven £1,486.03 £1,546.95 4.1%
Selby £1,482.04 £1,544.95 4.2%
Hambleton £1,418.30 £1,513.08 6.7%

So for 2023/24 those districts with lower bills in 2022/23 they will see the biggest percentage increases but still pay a lower charge than taxpayers from areas with higher charges in 2022/23.

Our budget

In February 2023, we agreed a budget for the financial year 2023/24 after we asked North Yorkshire residents to help us decide how to manage and prioritise our finances as part of our annual budget consultation.  Read the detailed budget documents here (pdf / 5 MB)

This has been one of the most challenging financial environments for local government in living memory. Inflation has had a major impact and is estimated, together with staff pay awards, to cost North Yorkshire Council over £68 million in 2023/24. To set this in context, a 1% increase in council tax raises just over £4 million. 

We are also seeing continuing high demand for services particularly in the areas of adult social care and children’s services. This has been made worse by the difficulties of staff recruitment and retention whilst the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause difficulties. 

We are very aware of the pressures on household budgets but despite using our reserves and finding even more areas where we can make savings, without compromising frontline services, we do need to increase council tax to meet these pressures. In February 2023, councillors voted for general council tax to increase by 2.99% along with an increase in the adult social care precept of 2%. The overall 4.99% increase will be equivalent to just under £7 a month for an average household.

Where does the council's money come from and where will it be spent? 

Our funding comes from a number of sources. This includes central government, council tax, business rates and fees and charges on services we provide. The table below reflects the estimate of gross income to be received in 2023/24.

Funding 2023 / 24 Percentage of total
Fees / charges / client contributions £268m 25%
Government grants - centrally held £76m 7%
Government grants - service based £49m 5%
Joint arrangements £55m 5%
Investment / commercial and other income £66m 6%
Use of reserves £12m 1%
Council tax income £428m 40%
Business Rates £119m 11%

Schools are funded by a dedicated schools grant from central government and £534m has been allocated in 2023/24. This amount includes both maintained schools and academies but excludes sixth form funding and pupil premium.

We plan to spend £1,074m on providing services to our residents. The total gross expenditure for 2023/24 is allocated as follows.

Directorate gross expenditure 2023 / 24 Percentage of total
Health and adult services £354m 33%
Children and young people's services £133m 12%
Environment and regulatory services £169m 16%
Central services £171m 16%
Community development £110m 10%
Corporate and other services £136m 12%


Capital spend
We plan to spend £154.9m on capital projects during 2023/24. Capital spending comes from a separate 'pot', which is financed from a combination of grants and contributions, borrowing, revenue budgets and capital receipts from the sales of properties.


Capital spending by function 2023 / 24
Environment and highways £49.3m
Public transport £9.5m
Education £30.5m
Social care £3.9m
Housing and community £31.7m
Culture, arts and leisure £8.2m
Property and vehicles £5.7m
Commercial £2.6m
IT infrastructure £21.m
Other provisions £11.4m
Total £154.9m

Adult social care precept

The government allows local authorities to charge an additional precept on top of their core council tax charge to help pay for adult social care services.

What is the adult social care precept for?

The adult social care precept is a portion of council tax which is set aside specifically for adult social care services. In the last financial year, we directly supported more than 14,000 older people and younger adults, including people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental ill health. Adult social care services are delivered in a number of different ways including prevention and supporting people to live independently in their own homes as well as residential and nursing care.

We spent more than £290m on adult social care services in 2022/23, supporting people to live longer, healthier, more independent lives. We currently receive over 70,000 enquiries every year relating to adult social care and demand for services, and the cost of providing those services, continue to increase.

For 2023/24, the adult social care precept has been increased by 2% of the total council tax charge made for services for the previous year (2022/23). This was approved at the full council meeting on 22 February 2023. We have illustrated how the adult social care precept is calculated with an example below using a Band D property.


Section Cost
Core council tax (weighted average) - band D £1,507.79
Adult social care precept £168.53
North Yorkshire Council tax total £1,676.32


Section Cost
North Yorkshire Council (weighted average) - band D £1,557.91

Adult social care precept

Calculated as:

£1,676.32 (22 / 23 total charge) x 2% (agreed increase) = £33.52

23 / 24 adult social care charge = £168.53 (22 / 23 adult social care charge) + £33.52 = £202.05

North Yorkshire Council total £1,759.96

Why should I have to pay council tax and an adult social care precept when I don’t use any services from the council?

Although everyone benefits from some of our services such as highways and transport, only those with children will receive education support and most people would like to remain sufficiently independent and healthy so that they never need council support such as residential care. However, it is often these statutory services, which benefit the smaller number of people that cost the most. Similarly, the adult social care precept is part of council tax rather than a service charge and so is not linked to whether or not you receive social care services. You could think of council tax as an insurance premium. You hope you will never have to claim but you have the comfort of knowing that if you, or a member of your family, need to then there will be support available to help you.

Council tax, precepts and what you will be charged

Council tax will be collected by North Yorkshire Council, but the money raised is spent not only by the council but by various other bodies including parish and town councils, police and fire and rescue services.

You will usually receive your council tax bill in March of each year, if you are 18 or over, and own or rent a home.

For 2023/24 our overall average Band D charge has been set at £1,759.96 – that’s an increase of 4.99% on the charge for 2022/23. Of this increase, 2.99% relates to general council tax and 2% to the adult social care precept. However, for 2023/24 only, the actual rate you pay will be determined by which district the property is in as we seek to harmonise council tax rates for the new council.  Full details of this and other council tax issues, including parish precepts, are detailed in the council tax leaflet (pdf / 2 MB)

You can also see  council tax charges by local area (pdf / 355 KB).

Frequently asked questions

What are the rules on council tax limits?

The government sets out the rules on how much councils can increase council tax. For 2023/24 the government confirmed the limit for increases to core council tax at 2.99% and 2% for the adult social care precept.

If we want to increase it by any more than these levels set by the government, we must hold a local referendum.

Why do you have to have a balanced budget?

Local authorities are required by law to have a balanced budget. That is a financial plan based on sound assumptions which shows how income will equal spend over the short and medium-term. Plans would take into account deliverable cost savings and/or local income growth strategies as well as usable reserves.

Why can you not just use your reserves?

Reserves are like household savings. The money has been put away to pay for something in the future like a car or as a resource for emergencies such as when the boiler breaks down unexpectedly.

There are two types of council reserves:

  1. Earmarked reserves - these are already committed to be spent.
  2. General reserves - these are for responding to unexpected events such as major funding issues.

Like savings, reserves can only be spent once. If we are not careful in making the best use of our reserves we will be exposed to the risk that if some serious unexpected expenditure is necessary, the money just will not be there.

Why can you not use your capital budget to pay for front line services?

Our capital budget is spent on fixed assets. That includes new buildings and major refurbishments, buying land or buildings and investment in shares or bonds. The capital budget can be funded from the revenue budget, through borrowing within strict parameters set by the government or from capital receipts. We can only borrow to support the capital budget not to pay for everyday services. Capital receipts such as the sale of assets can only be used to either repay debt or to support the capital budget.

If, for example, we were to sell an office building we owned, the money received would be a capital receipt and could only be used to repay debt or for the capital budget. It could not be used for funding social care or home to school transport costs or other revenue funded services. Repayment of debt might sound like a good option, however much of our debt is at low fixed interest and we may have to pay significant penalties for paying off debt early.