Why are we consulting?

The Government gave local authorities discretion to set a premium for long term empty homes. The premium increases the amount of Council Tax that people pay on their bill if they own a home that has been empty for over 2 years. 

We set our premium at 50% from April 2018. Since then the Government has given local authorities discretion to further increase the premium as follows:

·         a maximum of 100% premium for properties that have been empty for less than five years;

·      a maximum of 200% premium for properties that have been empty for more than 5 years: and

·      from 2021/22, onwards a maximum of 300% premium for properties that have been empty for at least ten years.

There are two key drivers that have prompted us to think that we need to look at them again now:

a)    We continue to face financial pressures. Although we spend less per household than the average UK council, we continue to receive less central government funding than other councils. It is therefore important that we look at the premium that we charge to make sure that we consider any opportunities to increase our income before we look at reducing or cutting services.

b)    Empty homes continue to have an impact on our community. They can be a health and safety risk to others, they can be a focal point for anti-social behaviour and they can be a waste of housing when people are in need. We want to do what we can to bring empty homes back into use.
What are we consulting on?

We are asking for your views on 4 main issues:

a)    whether we should we do what we can to increase our income;

b)    the amount of premium that we charge on long term empty homes;

c)    whether we should provide an exemption to the premium for certain groups; and

d)    whether or not we should help people who have a premium to pay but are suffering from genuine financial hardship.
What we are not consulting on?

We are not consulting on:

a)    Our Local Council Tax Support scheme and the discretionary fund that sits alongside the main scheme. This helps people who are on a low income and reduces or fully remits the amount of Council Tax that they have to pay.

b)    Our Discretionary Crisis Fund that helps people in one-off severe financial hardship.

c)    Our Discretionary Housing Payments Policy. This fund helps people who have a shortfall in their rent.

d)    Other empty home exemptions that we can’t change because they are set by central government. For example- a home that is empty as the owner is now living in a residential care home.

We have no plans to change the above. If we want to look at these again we will conduct a separate consultation.