Agenda item

Council Tax Premiums - Long Term Empty Homes and Second Homes – Outcome of Consultation


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change presented a report updating Cabinet on the outcome of the consultation exercise in respect of

charging a council tax premium on long term empty homes and second homes and also seeking a recommendation from Cabinet on how they wished to proceed, in light of the consultation feedback.


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change provided the background to the report and explained that the results of the consultation exercise were before Cabinet for a recommendation to full Council. She explained that Councils in Wales were able to charge higher amounts on top of the standard rate of Council tax on long term empty homes and on second homes. The discretion given to local authorities was intended to be a tool to help them bring long term empty homes back into use and also to support local authorities to increase the supply of affordable housing within their areas. She added that there were exceptions where premiums could not be charged and these were detailed in the report along with information on the local authorities that had applied a premium in Wales as at November 2022.


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change explained that in Bridgend, as at the end of October, there were 701 long term empty homes. The Empty Home Strategy for the Council sought to reduce empty properties, to contribute towards increasing the availability of housing for sale or for rent and charging a tax premium on empty properties was in line with the aims of that strategy. The report also looked at the proposal to charge a premium on second homes. Bridgend had 72 properties which were classed as second homes and they currently paid 100% of the Council Tax charge. She added that should a decision be made to apply a premium for second homes, it could not be applied to this category of homes until April 2024.


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change outlined how the consultation was advertised, the responses received to the consultation as detailed in appendix A to the report and the options available for Cabinet to consider.


The Cabinet Member for Future Generations explained that in light of the housing crisis that they were facing across the Borough, across Wales and across the UK, any proposal that helped them to bring more houses into use should be welcomed. He supported a premium on Council Tax on long term empty properties to get those properties back into use or to pay extra to help fund housing and homelessness services within the borough. With regard to second homes, there was a very small number of second homes currently in Bridgend and he thought they should take time to review the potential impact before taking a decision.


The Deputy Leader agreed with these comments and added that any funds that were raised by these charges should be used to reduce and assist with homelessness in Bridgend.


The Corporate Director for Communities advised that new regulations would be coming in late spring for Wales relating to holiday lets and second homes. Welsh Government were working with local planning authorities to see how they could amend the planning regulations enabling them to control the number of second homes and the number of holiday homes. This was particularly important when looking at the regeneration scheme in Porthcawl.


The Leader agreed that it would be sensible to consider second homes in more detail, taking into account the changes in the planning system.


The Cabinet Member for Communities agreed with the proposal for long term empty properties and asked for clarification regarding a decision on second homes and what date any increase would take effect if they failed to make a decision today. The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change confirmed that in accordance with the regulations, they would have to make a decision a full 12 months before implementation on the second homes provision. They could decide to make those premiums applicable from April 2024 but that there would be some modifications during the year.


The Leader referred to some confusion in some of the consultation responses in relation to an exemption for properties which were being renovated and were uninhabitable and those where they were waiting for Grant of Probate. He confirmed that there were already a number of specific exemptions from council tax that could apply in these circumstances.   


RESOLVED:                Cabinet:


• noted the outcome of the consultation and

recommended the implementation of a council tax premium on long term empty homes and second homes, to Council, with the proviso that additional work be carried out regarding second homes and wider factors.

• subject to the above, and any decision made by Council, authorised the Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change to implement any changes.

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