Pub­lic back plans for coun­cil tax hike for own­ers of empty homes

Ashbourne News Telegraph - - MEMORY LANE - By Gareth But­ter­field gareth.but­ter­[email protected]­bourne­new­stele­graph.co.uk

THE pub­lic have thrown their weight be­hind plans to charge own­ers of long-term empty homes in the Der­byshire Dales dou­ble, triple and quadru­ple coun­cil tax.

In July, mem­bers of Der­byshire Dales District Coun­cil voted unan­i­mously to push ahead with plans to charge higher rates of coun­cil tax to own­ers of empty homes.

This would be sub­ject to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the is­sue.

Ini­tially, the district coun­cil would look at charg­ing own­ers of homes which have been empty for two or more years dou­ble tax.

This was seen as a way to bring in much-needed cash for the coun­cil; to pe­nalise the rel­e­vant own­ers; and free up more houses for those look­ing to jump onto the hous­ing mar­ket.

In to­tal, 227 peo­ple re­sponded to the con­sul­ta­tion.

Of these, 70 per cent agreed with plans to charge dou­ble coun­cil tax for homes which had been left empty for two or more years.

On top of this, 74 per cent ap­proved of plans to charge triple coun­cil tax for homes empty for five to 10 years, and quadru­ple coun­cil tax for own­ers of homes left empty for 10 or more years.

The coun­cil is plan­ning to so­lid­ify its de­ci­sion, sup­ported by re­sound­ing pub­lic ap­proval, at a meet­ing to­day.

If ap­proved again, the dou­ble coun­cil tax charge would come into force on April 1, 2019.

Fur­ther guid­ance from the gov­ern­ment would be sought to ap­prove the triple and quadru­ple charges.

How­ever, the Rat­ing (Prop­erty in Com­mon Oc­cu­pa­tion) and Coun­cil Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill be­came law on Novem­ber 1 this year af­ter be­ing ap­proved by cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

It al­lows coun­cils to charge the in­creases in coun­cil tax be­ing dis­cussed by Der­byshire Dales coun­cil­lors.

It is thought that the tre­ble charge would able to be brought in from April 1, 2020 and the quadru­ple charge from April 1, 2021.

The move to­wards this be­gan in 2013 with an ad­di­tional 50 per cent pre­mium. Cen­tral gov­ern­ment states that there are 200,000 empty homes in Eng­land. There are nearly 650 long-term empty homes in the Der­byshire Dales.

Some 500 of these have been empty for more than six months and 214 for more than two years.

A re­port on the is­sue calls these homes a “wasted re­source”.

District coun­cil­lors dubbed this a “bla­tant tragedy” and an “ab­so­lute dis­grace” at a meet­ing in July.

The money raised from the ad­di­tional tax would be dis­trib­uted among all of the au­thor­i­ties to which coun­cil tax is re­turned to: the district coun­cil, county coun­cil, po­lice and fire ser­vice.

It is thought that the tax could bring in £433,415 next year homes re­main empty.

If all empty homes re­main empty up un­til 2029, the levies could raise £2.3 mil­lion.

How­ever, of­fi­cers pre­dict that the num­ber of empty homes will de­crease by 10 per cent each year.

This would see the amount brought in each year fluc­tu­ate, with a pre­dicted high of £990,000 in 2023.

The author­ity has not spec­i­fied how this ex­tra money would be spent but has said that it could sup­port “vi­tal ser­vices” at the district and county coun­cils, and the po­lice and fire ser­vices. When an owner per­sis­tently if all empty leaves a prop­erty empty, if it is in a poor con­di­tion or in an area of high hous­ing need, the district coun­cil may take out a com­pul­sory pur­chase or­der, if the owner has re­sisted all vol­un­tary at­tempts to bring the prop­erty back into use.

It can also take out an empty dwelling man­age­ment or­der.

This al­lows coun­cils to take over the man­age­ment of res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, where an owner of an empty prop­erty has turned down of­fers of help to bring the prop­erty back into use, and can of­fer no good rea­son why the prop­erty should re­main empty.

There are 500 homes in the Der­byshire Dales that have been empty more than six months

If ap­proved, the dou­ble coun­cil tax charge would come into force on April 1. Fur­ther guid­ance from the gov­ern­ment would be sought to ap­prove triple or quadru­ple charges.

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