Response - Council Tax: Proposed Changes for Second and Long-term Empty Homes

By: Jim Bennett  Published: February 2002


Shelter responded in February 2002 to the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions consultation on proposed changes to Council Tax.

Summary

Shelter supports proposals to give local authorities powers to reduce discounts for second homes and long-term empty homes.

Council tax can and should be used as a tool to tackle the blight of empty homes.  Changes should be implemented as part of an overall empty homes strategy. 

We would like to see the proposals going further by:

  • removing all discounts for second and holiday homes
  • by giving local authorities power to levy double council tax on some long-term empty homes.

It is important to distinguish between second / holiday homes and long-term empty properties.  They should be treated as two distinct categories. 

The new powers to reduce discounts (or increase council tax) for empty homes should only be available to local authorities developing an empty homes strategy, where the use of additional council tax revenue will be used to support this strategy. 

Guidance should be issued by the DTLR on, local authorities using discretion and flexibility in applying discounts for long-term empty homes.  Guidance should also be issued on the definition of 'long-term' and on the difference between second home and empty home.

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