Agenda item

Council Tax Premiums - Second Homes


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, the purpose of which, was to provide further information to Council on the planning and regeneration implications of applying a council tax premium to second homes, as requested at the meeting of Council on 8 February 2024, and to seek Council’s approval to go ahead with the application of the premium from 1 April 2024.


The report gave some background information following which, it advised that previously Council had received a report seeking approval to apply a council tax premium on empty homes and second homes in line with Welsh Government Guidance and following a public consultation.


The proposal was to apply 100% council tax premiums to empty homes from 1 April 2023 and to second homes from 1 April 2024, with both increasing to 200% after 2 years.


She reminded that Members had however asked that a further report be brought back to Council during the year on the wider implications of council tax premiums on second homes, prior to deciding whether or not to continue to proceed with applying this premium (see Paragraphs 3.5 to 3.11 of the report for further details).


The Council currently has 81 chargeable second homes, which could generate additional council tax income of £188,000, but this was subject to discounts and exceptions being applied and successful collection.


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that this latest report outlined some of the planning and regeneration implications of implementing the proposal and sought a decision from Council, on whether to continue with the decision made at Council in February 2023 to apply the premium from April 2024.


The Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Regeneration reiterated,  that there had been an initial report submitted to Council on this topic and empty homes last year. He wished to point out that there was still a significant housing crisis within the County Borough at the current time.


A Member asked that if a member of the public buys a second home which has been empty for many years and is unhabitable, then they would have to pay double Council Tax on this, ie as well as their primary property, for the length of time it took to make the second property habitable. She asked if there was any financial protection or support in place for these people.


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, advised that there were an increasing number of grant opportunities available through which to upgrade properties such as the above, to bring them back up to habitable use. She confirmed that she would share these with Members, so that they could in turn share with any interested constituents.


A Member noted the opportunity to gain extra revenue in the form of Council Tax payments from private property second homeowners. He asked though, if the Council could similarly collect extra revenue from the owners of empty business properties.


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change advised that this was dependent upon the owners of such vacated properties being known and traceable. She added, that Council Tax revenue from private properties came into the Council directly, however, Business Rates in respect of commercial properties the Authority collected on behalf of Welsh Government (WG) and paid this directly to them. The Council then received a payment from WG that was based on the adult population of the BCB.


A Member noted the extra income confirmed in the report of £188k and asked what the costs to the Authority would be for ensuring the collection of this.


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, advised that there would be no extra cost, as this would just be in the form of additional work that would be absorbed by the Council Tax section, though there could be additional costs in the form of non-payment, for example through chasing up payment and if necessary, Court proceedings and summonses, etc.


As there were some Members who reflected that they did not support the report’s proposals, Council agreed to conduct an electronic vote on this item, the result of which was as follows:-


For                                             Against                         Abstentions     


 28                                                  4                                      4


RESOLVED:                              That Council approved the proposed 100% council tax premiums to be implemented from 1st April 2023 for long term empty homes, and 1st April 2024 for second homes, with these both increasing to 200% after 2 years.

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