Middle classes fleeced by council tax system - where are the biggest bills?

Do you live in a relatively nice area? Have you worked hard to provide your family with a reasonable home? Do you pull your weight in society and ask for very little in return - except maybe someone to collect the rubbish every fortnight or so. Then you're one of hundreds of thousands of the middle classes doomed to pay far more than anyone else in council tax - and receive very little in return.

So where are the biggest bills, and who receives the least in government spending in return?

Most expensive
The Department of Communities has revealed data showing how much council tax is being charged around the country and how much is being spent, and the results make depressing reading for the middle classes. They spend up to a third more in council tax.

The hardest hit are the residents of leafy Richmond on Thames (home to Hampton Court Palace - pictured) who are charged an average of £755 per person - compared to the national average of £511. And what do they get in return for this - a far lower amount spent on services - at £409 each.

At the other end of the spectrum is the troubled Hackney Council, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Islington and Knowsley.

The problem
The issue is the fact that larger houses are charged more in council tax, so posher areas with bigger homes will have larger bills. Meanwhile, central funds are allocated in spending depending on the areas deemed to have the greatest need - so those posh areas are going to lose out here too.

The government, when releasing the figures, crowed about the freeze in council tax at least taking some of the pressure off. But I'm not entirely convinced by this. Why should we be impressed with the maintenance of a status quo that is clearly so stacked against the middle classes.

Surely the income tax bands are supposed to be the way in which the better off in society help those in more need - and the VAT system is meant to ensure that those with lots of disposable income subsidise those who cannot afford to make ends meet. Why should council tax be yet another way to fleece the squeezed middle?

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Highest council tax bills per head
1. Richmond upon Thames £755
2. Chiltern £734
3. South Bucks £734
4. Elmbridge £729
5. East Dorset £722
6. West Dorset £717
7. Purbeck £716
8. Wealden £716
9. Mole Valley £713
10. Christchurch £705

Biggest central Government grant per head:
1. Hackney £1,043
2. Tower Hamlets £968
3. Newham £919
4. Islington £855
5. Knowsley £789
6. Southwark £784
7. Camden £776
8. Lambeth £769
9. Liverpool £764
10. Hammersmith and Fulham £738

Lowest central Government grant per head
1. Wokingham £125
2. Buckinghamshire £133
3. Surrey £135
4. Windsor and Maidenhead £139
5. Hampshire £142
6. West Sussex £150
7. Richmond upon Thames £158
8. Dorset £160
9. Leicestershire £166
10. Hertfordshire £181

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