MHCLG amends bill to hike council tax on empty homes

19 Jul 18

The government has adopted proposals for council tax on empty homes to be quadrupled.

Government amendments were tabled to a bill that initially allowed English councils to double council tax on properties left empty for two years or more.

The changes to the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill allows councils to triple council tax on homes left empty for five to 10 years and quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade.

The amendment was moved by local government minister Lord Bourne during the bill’s third reading in the House of Lords yesterday.

Local government secretary James Brokenshire said: “We’re determined to do everything we can to ensure our communities have the housing they need.

“That’s why we’re giving councils extra flexibility to increase bills and incentivise owners to bring long-standing empty homes back into use.”

The Local Government Association led calls for the bill’s amendments to be passed, on Wednesday.

More than 200,000 homes in England left empty for six months or more, down from 300,000 in 2010, according to MHCLG.

This reduction is due to the introduction of a government scheme in 2013 that allowed councils to charge a 50% premium on council tax bills, the ministry said.

Brokenshire added: “By equipping councils with the right tools to get on with the job, we could potentially provide thousands more families with a place to call home.”

A total of 291 out of 326 councils applied an empty homes premium in 2017-18.

The announcement coincides with the launch of the ‘Coalition for Community Investment’, backed by homeless charity Crisis, the Residential Landlords Association and others.

The coalition, led by campaigning charity Empty Homes, aims to tackle the housing crisis through “targeted regional investment” in areas with a high number of empty homes.

Campaign manager at Empty Homes Chris Bailey said: “We believe that the answers [to the crisis] are to be found in investment and that is best directed to community-based and locally led solutions.”

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