Agenda item

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


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, submitted a report, in order to:


·         provide information to Council on the discretionary powers that the Council has with regards to charging higher amounts of council tax on long term empty homes and second homes;

·         inform Council of the outcome of the recent consultation exercise in respect of charging a council tax premium on long term empty homes and second homes; and

·         seek approval from Council that the proposed council tax premiums, as recommend by cabinet on 17 January 2023, be implemented.


By way of background, she advised that from April this year, Councils in Wales were able to charge higher amounts of up to 300% on top of the standard rate of council tax on long term empty homes and second homes. The discretion given to local authorities to charge a premium is intended to be a tool to help authorities to bring long term empty homes back into use and also to support local authorities in increase in the supply of affordable housing within their areas.


There were exceptions where premiums cannot be charged and these were detailed at paragraph 3.5 of the report.


The report before Members, outlined the options available to the local authority with regards to empty properties. Paragraph 3.10 the report, provided details of those local authorities that have applied a premium in Wales. At the current time 11 of the 22 local authorities do charge a premium, whilst other were currently in the process of reviewing their position on this.


In Bridgend, as at the end of October 2022, there were 701 long term empty homes and the details of where these were and how long they have been empty, was shown at paragraph 3.11 of the report.


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change stated that the Empty Homes Strategy for the Council, seeks to reduce empty properties to contribute towards increasing the availability of housing for sale or for rent. Charging a Council Tax premium on empty properties is in line with the aims of this Strategy, explained the Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change.


The report also looked at the proposal to charge a premium on second homes and again details of where this is currently being applied in Wales, was outlined in the report. The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change drew attention to the fact, that in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 1992, should a decision be made to apply a premium it could not be applied to this category of homes until April 2024.


The proposal to introduce Council Tax Premiums on long term empty homes and second homes, had been the subject of consultation and the matter was reconsidered by Cabinet in January this year. At that meeting it was decided that Cabinet 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, concluded the Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change. 


A Member stated that there was a definite need for home owners to bring their properties back into a habitable state and that there was a real need for further housing, in particular affordable accommodation, in the Llynfi and other valley locations within the County Borough.


The Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations agreed with this ie particularly the point that increased housing accommodation was needed for families on low income and to support the homeless etc. He added that there was support for owners of empty properties to assist them to carry out essential remedial works that could then result in the homes being brought back to a habitable condition, for example, through the like of the Housing for Homes Fund. He added that only yesterday, Cabinet agreed a new agreement with Welsh Government that will secure £1.2m of funding to assist homeowners to this end.


A Member felt that the above should not only apply to empty homes but to empty properties also, so she asked if the local authority were thinking of something similar with commercial properties, particularly when being mindful of placemaking in our towns and the number of empty residential properties available there that could be converted into flats, which would result in an increase of housing stock in the County Borough.


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change advised that the scheme subject of the report, related to Council Tax and residential properties, so she would need to check whether a similar situation would apply to business property. There was a grant available however, to turn properties in town centres into residential accommodation should there be a need to do so and information regarding this was available on the Council’s website.


A Member asked if someone was in long term care, were they still subject to an Empty Homes Premium.


The Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations referred Council to paragraph 3.8 of the report which listed exemptions in respect of the above, one of which was those individuals who were in long term care.


In response to a question from the floor, the Leader stated that where a dwelling was being structurally repaired, there was a legislative exemption with regards to Council Tax reduction for up to a period of 12 months.


The Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations added that the Houses to Homes scheme did allow owners of properties following a period of 6 months, to access this fund. Therefore, owners would have the opportunity to tap into this funding with a view to carrying out home improvements, prior to them being affected by the terms of the new policy provisions.    


RESOLVED:                                  That Council:-


  • Noted the report and the outcome of the consultation, and
  • Approved the proposed 100% Council Tax Premiums to be implemented from 1 April 2023 for long term empty homes, and 1 April 2024 for second homes, with these both increasing to 200% after 2 years.
  • Noted that a further report will be brought to Council on the wider implications of Council Tax Premiums on second homes prior to deciding whether or not to continue to proceed with implementing the premium from April 2024.


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