EAST Dorset, North Dorset and Purbeck District Council set among the highest Band D council tax rates in the country last year.

All three authorities feature in an unenviable list of the top ten highest Band D bills in Britain.

Five Dorset councils made the list, with Weymouth & Portland topping the table with an average Band D council tax bill of £1,991 for 2018/19 – the highest in the entire country.

East Dorset District Council took the number two spot, while Purbeck –with its £1,957 bill – was ranked fourth in the list.

North Dorset brought up tenth position, with its Band D residents paying £1,925.

These figures, complied by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, become all the more relevant in the light of a new Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) study.

Researchers at CIPFA say council tax is likely to increase by an average of £75.60 per household, across the country, from next month.

A projected 4.5 per cent increase for Band D homes will the second highest in a decade, although it is down on last year's average 5.1 per cent rise.

However, Purbeck District Council chief executive Steve Mackenzie said: "Effectively there are five different bills for council tax in Dorset. There is the one for the district council, which is the billing authority – so all the national stats are based on the billing authority.

"The county council has the biggest share of the bill, typically around 70 per cent. The district's share is 10 per cent, the police precept, typically, is about 11 per cent, parish councils about four per cent, and the fire authority about five."

Purbeck's council tax for the district council, says Mr Mackenzie, is roughly average for a district council.

"So it then begs the question, why is the bill for Purbeck as a whole so high? Essentially it comes down to the size of the the 70 per cent. It is the county council element of the bill that is significantly above average.

"The reason for this is that Dorset as a whole, and the county council in particular, does very badly in terms of government grants. The government believes from its formula used to distribute grants that Dorset is a well off area. But a large part of Dorset is asset rich, houses are of a high value, but people are income poor.

"People don't have a lot of money, wages in Purbeck are below the national average, so people are not well off.

"But the government believes Dorset is well off, so we don't get government grants."

Cllr Ray Bryan, East Dorset performance portfolio holder, said: “From the £1963.00 quoted in the table, East Dorset receives £218.66. This equates to £4.20 per week and is used to fund essential services to the public such as waste collection, planning, public health, housing and licensing. The remainder funds services provided by the police, fire authority, Dorset County Council and town and parish councils.

“East Dorset District Council does not receive any central government funding and so council tax is an essential income stream in balancing the annual budget.”

A recent study, commissioned by Salary Finance, also found that people living in the South West have just £195.09 disposable income each month, less than £7 a day and the lowest in the country.

Meanwhile, Taxpayers Alliance policy analyst Ben Ramanauskas said: "People in the UK are already paying a very high proportion of their incomes in taxation, and so this increase in council tax will not be welcome."