AS council tax bills arrive this week there is anger that increases in most of Dorset will go well above the rate of inflation.

For the first time many Band D homes will be paying over £2,000 a year and many in band F over £3,000 a year. Most of those on Band H will be paying more than £4,000 a year for council services. For some properties there will be an overall rise of around 7 per cent although for others it will be less than one per cent.

Many in the rural county are now paying higher amounts than similar banded properties in some of London’s most expensive boroughs.

One Littlemoor woman, whose band B property will cost an extra £10 a month, says “we’re being mugged.” Another Weymouth resident says her pension has gone up by £5 a month and her council tax by £9.

A Weymouth man has posted his bill for a band F property online – showing an overall rise of 6.8 per cent, taking the amount owing to £3,063.52 a year. “What a disgrace we don’t even live in a big house. We definitely won’t be retiring in this rip off town,” he says.

Weymouth residents will be among the worst affected by the combined increases although in North Dorset overall average increases are calculated at 6.29 per cent and in West Dorset average payments will rise by a combined sum of just over 5 per cent. Purbeck bills will rise by an average of 2.23% and East Dorset 0.29 %.

Many residents are blaming the new Dorset Council for the bigger charges but the authority says it is only responsible for a 2.99 per cent increase, the maximum allowed by the Government. To have increased beyond that would have meant having to hold a referendum. That increase puts its share of the council tax at £1,629.75 for a band D property. It says the rise will allow for a modest investment in key services such as children’s and adult social care and limited extra cash for other services. The biggest percentage rise comes from the police whose share of the council tax is up by 11.6 per cent for some properties.

Weymouth residents have larger increases than some other areas partly because of the decision to create a town council for the area, the new council precept costing a band D home in Weymouth £185.69 a year.

Another change which has skewed the figures is the Dorset Council decision to harmonise, or average, its share of council tax so that residents in each former borough or district pays the same. In the neighbouring new unitary council area, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, councillors opted for a staggered increases over a number of years, resulting in a lower annual increase for 2019/20 compared to the Dorset Council area.

The Dorset Council method has been to average the 2018/19 tax levels across its area and then to apply a 2.99 per cent increase to the resulting figure.

Said Dorset Council’s finance brief holder Cllr Tony Ferrari: “The underlying principle underpinning the council tax increase is fairness. Under the new Dorset Council all residents will receive the same services and pay a standard council tax rate for those services. To get to this standard council tax rate some areas like East Dorset and Purbeck have very small increases, other areas have larger increases. In the end this is a fair outcome for all.”

A council spokesman says that to focus on the increase in tax rates is only to tell one side of the story: “While many councils across the country are making yet further cuts to their front line services, Dorset Council’s budget ensures that services previously delivered by the borough, district and county councils will continue to be provided to residents unchanged, and there is significant additional funding for social care, waste collection and homelessness. This has been made possible by the reorganisation of councils in Dorset, and the resulting efficiencies and cost reductions which are in train. Money saved through cost reductions is being reinvested to protect front line services for residents,” said a spokesman.

The authority also says that although ‘average’ council tax bands have always been worked out on a Band D property for illustrative purposes the average, most common, council tax band in Dorset is band C, which, with all elements added, is now likely to average £1,811.18 a year.

Despite the harmonisation of the council tax for Dorset Council the amounts paid across the area will still vary because of other elements of the council tax.

These include the share for police and fire services and town or parish charges.

The average band D fire service charge for 2019-20 will be £74.87 per household with £230.58 for the Police.

Parish precepts have to be added in to these figures and vary from zero in some Dorset parishes where there is no local council, to upwards of £200 a year.

In Bridport the parish, or town precept, in the coming year for a Band D property will be £227.54; in Dorchester £192.76; Weymouth £185.69 and Portland £99.29. For comparison those who live in the Cerne Valley parish council area will be paying £31.59.

When all the figures are added together many, but not all, residents in Band D homes will now be paying more than £2,000 a year, those in band F over £3,000.

In Weymouth the total figure for a Band D property works out at £2,120.89; in Dorchester £2,127.96; Bridport £2,157.74 and Portland £2,034.49; In the Cerne Valley £1,966.79. For those areas which do not have a parish precept the annual council tax bill will be £1,935.20 for a band D property.

One of the main reasons for rises in council tax over recent years is that the Government has gradually reduced the amount of money it pays to councils, known as the Rate Support Grant, so that the entire charge for local services in the coming financial year now falls on local people, rather than being partially shared by taxpayers.