OXFORDSHIRE councils are facing a new wave of appeals from householders who may be paying too much council tax as a result of their homes being put in the wrong band.

Hundreds of people in the county have already successfully appealed about being overcharged, with the cost to local councils put at £2m.

A television programme presented by Sir Trevor McDonald first alerted residents that they might be entitled to refunds in excess of £2,000.

But it has now emerged that ITV's Tonight programme is to broadcast a second programme on the issue, focusing heavily on Oxford.

It will be broadcast next week, amid claims that ministers have known since 2005 that thousands of householders are paying more than they should.

A spokesman for Tonight said that it was examining the level of overcharging in Oxford after seeing reports in The Oxford Times about the number of successful appeals in the city.

The programme, which is due to go out on Friday, March 7 at 8pm, is expected to trigger hundreds more claims by setting out how residents can appeal.

The last programme resulted in more than 300 families in Oxford alone successfully appealing to win council tax reductions of up to £120 per household, per year.

As Oxford City Council was finalising is budget, councillors were told that banding appeals meant the council would end up with £200,000 less than it had been expecting from council tax next year.

Oxfordshire County Council, which received the biggest proportion of council tax money, confirmed that it would be £1.8m down next year.

Councils must now prepare for a second 'hit' to their finances. Some of the banding reductions may have to be backdated by as much as 15 years, resulting in householders being paid back sums in excess of £2,000.

Jim Campbell, pictured, the Lib Dem city council executive member for finance, said: "If people believe that they were put in the wrong band, they have every right to appeal, whether it was 15 or ten years ago.

"But wearing my finance hat, I must hope that not too much money will have to be returned and the council does not have to go on taking these hits."

Newspaper reports this week said that ministers and officials have long been aware that nationally as many as 400,000 homes were placed in the wrong tax bands but chose to keep the matter secret.

Whitehall documents are said to show the Government concealed the mistakes, fearful that councils would have to make huge rebate payments and worried about the "adverse press coverage".

Council tax charges depend on the 1991 valuation of house prices, with homes graded from A to H.

But there were suggestions of 'second gear' valuations, with estate agents driving past houses to allocate bands.