With councillors meeting this afternoon to approve Bradford's 2018/19 budget, we've trawled through a decade of council finance documents so you don't have to. Here's your briefing on what's happening to your council tax bill this year.

Where does my council tax go?

The clue's in the name – the bulk of it goes to the council.

About half of this cash is spent on care for children and vulnerable adults, with the other half going on all sorts of services from collecting the bins to running local museums.

The rest of your council tax bill goes to the police and the fire service.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Is my council tax bill getting bigger?

Yes it is.

For the first time, a household in a mid-range home (one in Band D) will have to pay more than £1,500.

This year, the main bit of council tax is set to go up by an inflation-busting 5.99% – that's effectively the maximum amount allowed.

3% of this rise will have to be spent on adult social care.

The local police and fire authorities have also hiked their parts of the bill, known as precepts.

The fire authority portion will go up by nearly 3% this year, while the police portion will go up by 7.95%.

All in all, a Band D bill will come in at £1,559.

That's 17% higher than it was five years ago.

People living in areas with town or parish councils will also have to pay some extra money which goes to supporting their work.

Wrose Parish Council has the lowest bill for the coming year, at £7.50 for a Band D property, while Burley-in-Wharfedale has the highest, with an annual bill of £65.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Many town and parish councils have hiked their precepts substantially this year.

Silsden's is up by a massive 80%, going from £14 to £26 in a year.

When did council tax last go up by this much?

This is the biggest rise in at least a decade. Since 2012, the government has effectively capped the tax rises that councils can impose, but this year the cap was lifted to its highest level yet – 5.99%.

We don't yet know how this cap will change in the future.

Who pays council tax?

Most people over 18 have to pay council tax and from April even more people will be paying it.

Bradford Council currently waives the bills of 12,728 disabled people or carers entirely, while 17,134 more working-age households on low incomes get some money off their bills.

This will change from April, meaning most of these people will lose part of their discount and some will lose it all.

Discounts for pensioners, which are set nationally, won't change.

Am I getting fewer services for my money?

In a word, yes.

Bradford Council says that of the £262m in savings it has had to make since 2011, more than half has been found in cutting back-office costs.

But front-line services have been hit too in recent years.

Among other cut-backs, it has closed public toilets, stopped staffing numerous libraries and moved  general bin collections from weekly to fortnightly.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Council is planning to catch up on missed bin collections

What is being cut next?

Today the 90 local politicians from different parties who make up Bradford Council will meet to decide how to save yet more money from April, as well as making further cutbacks the year after.

There is usually a lot of arguing.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

However, Labour, which holds a majority, has already set out its savings plans and held a public consultation on them.

The plans include cutting at least 153 more jobs in the next two years and spending less on areas like museums and galleries, road maintenance and the youth service.

Notably, neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats are arguing against Labour's planned 5.99% council tax rise.

The Tories have unveiled their alternative plans, which would see the number of councillors cut by 15 and some building projects planned for central Bradford scrapped, in favour of more investment in the wider district.

How big is Bradford Council's budget?

It might be shrinking, but Bradford Council's budget is still pretty big.

Today they will be deciding how to spend a grand total of £358m over the next financial year.

Is it true that Bradford Council's budget is halving over a decade?

A long-stated claim by Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe is that the authority's budget will halve 'in real terms' between 2010 and 2020 - i.e. once inflation is factored in.

We put this claim to the test, using inflation data from the Office for National Statistics.

This showed that the council's budget has already shrunk by a third in real terms since 2010.

The council predicts its budget will fall to £332m by 2020/21.

For this figure to be worth half of the 2010 budget, in real terms, inflation would have to run at more than 10% a year for the next two years, which seems unlikely.

However, it's still fair to say that council finances have taken a substantial hit.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

We asked Cllr Hinchcliffe's office how they had done their working-out, and they said they had used a different measure of inflation: the retail prices index.

This isn't the measure used by national government and some years ago the ONS also stopped classing it as a national statistic as they found it “not to meet the required standard”.

But her office also pointed out that the council is also seeing increased demand for services, meaning it's not just inflation that is seeing their costs rise.

Why are the council's costs going up?

A growing elderly population and the increasing importance of keeping vulnerable children protected mean Bradford Council's social care bill is growing fast.

As a result, other areas of council spending face big cut-backs.

Even so, some critics say the authority is still not spending enough on social care.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Home care workers say they aren't being given enough time to meet clients' needs

Could Bradford Council go bust?

Earlier this year, Northamptonshire County Council was forced to ban new spending after running out of cash.

It put the issue of council finances into the national spotlight.

Here in Bradford, the council's new finance chief, Andrew Crookham, spoke out this week, warning in a report that the authority must stick to its savings plans this year.

He said some cuts planned for last year never materialised, meaning the authority had to find money from one-off resources to plug the gap.

He said this is “clearly bad practice and is the prime reason for the severe financial strain being reported elsewhere in the sector”.

Does Bradford Council spend its money well?

A recent study by consultancy firm Impower found that Bradford was the tenth best council in the country for getting value out of the money it spent.

However, some of its spending decisions in recent years have raised eyebrows.

These include a £7,000 refurbishment of the Council leader's offices, £13,000 for coloured lights at the top of the council offices Margaret McMillan Tower and £15,000 on an unusual sculpture outside – the 'Baby of the North'.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: CONTROVERSIAL: The new Baby of the North sculpture has received a mixed reaction since it was unveiled in Bradford city centre

The artwork had been part-funded by a government grant for city-centre improvements but it's fair to say it has continued to divide opinion since being unveiled.

The cost of having 90 elected councillors, rather than a smaller number, and the six-figure salaries of the council's senior staff are also often hot topics for debate.

Are the cuts the Government's fault?

Government funding of local councils has certainly been shrinking since 2010, when austerity measures began in the wake of the global financial crisis.

As to who is to blame for the crash, and whether the austerity measures are the right approach, well, that's of course a huge political debate.

Is it true that the Government funding of councils will disappear by 2020?

In 2015, then-chancellor George Osborne revealed that the core grant for local councils would be phased out by 2020.

Instead, he set out plans for councils to be able to keep all their business rate income, rather than handing half to Whitehall as they do now.

As a result, Bradford's core grant has been shrinking markedly in recent years.

But the business rate change has yet to take effect and is still only at trial stage, with Bradford among the areas piloting it this year.

The gradual loss of the core grant means the council has been relying more and more on council tax, which now funds more than half of its budget.

But Bradford has many low-cost homes which fall into lower council tax bands, meaning it raises less tax per person than the average council.

The Government also provides councils with other, smaller grants and funding streams, such as cash incentives for building new homes.

It is currently consulting on ways the taxpayer might fund local government in the future.