Where does your council tax money go?

One of the common complaints we hear when asking people to get involved with litter picks in their community is “Why should I, that’s why I pay council tax!”. 

This is a reasonable complaint and the council needs to be held accountable for the reasons why litter is so bad. 

However, it’s also important we understand the facts around why the council are struggling to provide these services. 

In this article we look at the council funding in a bit more detail to understand where your money goes, and to put rubbish management in a city-wide context.

All data is available here.

How has the budget changed since 2013?

Before we get stuck into the most recent spending, it’s important to appreciate how little the Council budget has increased in recent years. 

In 2013, their budget was £2.3bn, which has increased to £2.5bn in 2020. However, funding from central government has stayed the same – £1.3bn. 

If the 2013 budget had kept inline with inflation, it would be £2.7bn in 2020

If the central government funding had kept inline with inflation, it would be £1.52bn in 2020, meaning the council has received a real world cut of £200m from central government. 

Of interest is also that council taxes account for just 11% of the total budget, with 89% of the money coming from other sources. 

Total Budget£2,303,886,700£2,545,594,900
Council Tax Contribution£249,499,200£290,599,200
Council Tax %10.8%11.4%
Central Gov Funding£1,300,711,000£1,294,594,000
Central Funding %56%51%

Out of that budget, where does the money go?

Two Thirds of the Council’s budget goes into Education and Social care services. Let that sink in for a moment, as it’s often an overlooked aspect of council spending, and a much larger chunk than many would consider. 

Education Services£579,639,90038%
Social Work Services£428,804,60028%
Financial Services£126,323,0008%
Neighbourhoods and Sustainability£121,665,2008%
Related Companies, Joint Boards and Managed Services£101,457,3007%
Chief Executive’s Office£89,524,0006%
Development and Regeneration Services£61,277,8004%

If we look at that on a Band C, it means that each month your money goes to the following places (Neighborhoods and Sustainability is what includes the Refuse collection budget.) This is ignoring the split which means “real” figures will be much lower than the below, due to council tax contributing for just 11% of the councils’ finances.

Education Services£52.19
Social Work Services£38.61
Financial Services£11.37
Neighbourhoods and Sustainability£10.95
Related Companies, Joint Boards and Managed Services£9.13
Chief Executive’s Office£8.06
Development and Regeneration Services£5.52

Has the Council increased funding for recycling and bins?

Broadly, yes, it looks like they have. While this doesn’t solve the problem, it’s encouraging that the Council seem to be aware of the issue and are putting some money behind it. 

In the below table we see that the total council budget for refuse and collection based services has actually increased 28% since 2013. This has increased from the overall total budget from 5%, to 6%. 

To put that in perspective, if you’re currently a Band C Council tax, you’re paying around £100 a year for street cleaning and rubbish / recycling collection. 

20132020% Change
Refuse Collection£18,760,700£29,387,60057%
Street Cleansing£17,204,100£18,604,0008%
Disposal Services£37,565,300£46,121,60023%
Total Spend£73,530,100£94,113,20028%
% Total Budget5%6%

Does Glasgow have one of the Highest Council Tax Rates in the Country?

Another common complaint is that Glasgow council taxes are too high. Again, perspective is needed and we wanted to compare Glasgow’s Band C council tax rates to similar sized cities in the UK.

Figures below are for 2020-2021 and differ from the table above as the 20-21 budget isn’t available, but their council tax prices have been updated. It’s worth bearing in mind that Water charges are included within Council tax in Scotland, which it isn’t in English councils. 

Band CWater ChargeTotal

From these figures alone, we see that:

  • Central Government funding had dropped in real terms over the 7 years
  • How little council tax makes up of total budget (11%)
  • How much refuse collection budgets have increased

There are questions to be asked about where this additional funding has gone – as clearly it has not improved the littering situation. But it does not look like waste management has been under-funded, nor is it the case that the Council has a large surplus of cash to spend on these things. 

Perhaps the main thing to take away from this is just how much money is spent elsewhere, and how much central funding has been slashed in the past few years.

Council tax contributions makes up just 11% of the total budget, and as such waste collection will make up an even smaller proportion of your monthly council tax bill.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Colin

    This is a great piece of work 👍👍
    I suppose a good question is, given there is a limited pot of money, do we want to spend more on street cleaning if that money could be spent on sport, education and culture instead…? Especially if behavioural change could reduce the amount of street cleaning required.. just a thought

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