IF you've ever seen the council tax bill dropping through the door and breathed a sigh of anguish, it could be worse.

Your Worcester News can reveal how the rates for living in Worcestershire are the ninth LOWEST in the entire country.

For the first time ever newly released data from the Government allows taxpayers to compare each part of the UK in terms of what they have to pay.

Across Worcestershire the average band D bill from the county council stands at £1,059 for the current financial year.

But despite going up nearly two per cent in April, four years of previous freezes means it now trails behind most of the country, with some similar counties charging householders nearly £700 more per year.

The most expensive in the country is Weymouth, where the average bill is £1,726 per year, while Rutland comes in second at £1,704.

East Dorset, which is considered very similar to Worcestershire, is the fourth most expensive at £1,687 while Nottinghamshire, which has more deprivation than this county, is 10th highest at £1,675.

The rates do not include small add-ons by district councils or other bodies like police and fire services, which typically make up around 20 per cent of the total bill.

The information has been published by the Government in a bid highlight town halls who charge sky-high rates without householders knowing.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: "I was convinced we'd be in the bottom third but didn't know it would be this low.

"I'd have thought areas like East Dorset would be pretty similar to us, so that is a surprise.

"We took the view that during the height of the recession it was certainly the right thing to do, to keep on freezing it and this shows how much of a difference it has made."

The Conservative leadership has not ruled out increasing rates again next year, saying it has yet to make its mind up either way.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the deputy leader, said: "It's good to see the efforts to keep it down are now being recognised on a national basis.

"What is genuinely surprising to me is to see how expensive some areas are compared to us - unless you're a resident who moves around a lot most people wouldn't be in a position to see the differences."