Martin Lewis is a clever man - and I’m glad he is on our side rather than on the side of big business.

If you don’t know him, he runs a website called Money Saving Expert which offers up loads of helpful hints and tips on how to try and save money on things like mortgages, loans, credit cards and practically every other outlay from utility bills to buying gifts.

I’ve been a subscriber to his weekly e-mail for a little while now, but to be honest while his views have definitely changed the way I think about money and debt, I’ve never really followed through and acted on very much of his advice other than trying to reclaim bank charges.

But this week’s e-mail included a section on having a bit of a spring-clean of your finances as it was the start of a new year and one of the things suggested was checking out whether your Council Tax band was correct.

It’s just something you take for granted as being right, but he gives detailed steps of what to do to check - these only take 5 minutes and could theoretically save you money so why not give them a go?

The downside is that there are certain conditions on when you can challenge your band (all are detailed on his site), but the best time to do it is within 6 months of buying the property - although there are other times which are acceptable too.

The backstory is that in 1991 when Council Tax was introduced, the government had to obtain a value for every house in the country which is obviously an extremely daunting task. This was often handed out to estate agents and the like, who had up to 400 houses to value each day - and they were only allowed to view a house from the outside before giving a value, no entry was permitted. This obviously has meant a lot of houses were valued incorrectly, either because the house was deceptively sized when viewed from the outside or because the valuer was so busy he didn’t even get out to see the house for himself and just made an educated guess.

The street where we bought our house has a row of 7 bungalows which initially were identical but over the years people have made numerous alterations. Some have added an upstairs, some have simply converted the roofspace into bedrooms and others have actually bought two houses and knocked them through but as we are all in the same Council Tax band I’m assuming the valuer thought they were all the same and valued them accordingly.

The house next to us has three bedrooms compared to our two and is generally bigger all round. It was bought last year for £25,000 more than we paid for our house (all these figures are available for free on the internet at NetHousePrices so I’m not giving away any secrets!).

This gives us some ammunition already to argue that we shouldn’t both be in the same band, but another reason would add weight to our case.

Nationwide provide a handy service which can either project what your house will be worth at a future date, or calculate from a given figure what it would have been worth at a date in the past.

Therefore by entering the purchase price and date, it will tell you what your house was worth in 1991 when the Council Tax bands were set. At the time, the valuer had a table showing what values would be in each band so you can then compare the two and see what band your house should really have been in.

So after a bit of calculation the figures agreed that our house should really have been in the band below the one we are currently in.

It’s then a simple step to complete a form online (the systems are different for Scotland and England so rather than going into that here, please see Money Saving Expert’s website for further details) which will send the information to your local council who will assess your reasons and decide whether they agree - if they do then your Council Tax band could be reduced and you could even have the decision backdated and receive a refund.

You have to be careful though as the appeal to the council is technically a call to have your house revalued so if you are chancing your arm and don’t have a good case then they may be really mean and put you up a band!

Our appeal is in and I’ll report back when we hear more - the only argument I can see them making is that we have made the appeal slightly over the 6 month limit from having bought the house but hopefully they will be lenient on that…