Council tax rise for empty home owners

OWNERS of empty homes in Calderdale will have to pay hundreds of pounds more council tax next year.

Council leaders have decided to scrap the 25 per cent discount, which even on a modest property is worth upwards of £250.

The Government recently signalled that it intends to reduce discounts but Calderdale Council has stolen a march by deciding to implement the full charge on properties empty for more than six months from April.

However, there will still be discounts for the 314 registered second homes, most of which are in the lowest council tax band.

“We are going to be ahead of the Government on this,” said Calderdale Council’s economy and environment spokesman Barry Collins.

The council discount on empty homes and second homes was reduced from 50 per cent to 25 per cent in 2009 and the latest reduction could raise as much as £660,000 for the cash strapped authority.

Councillor Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said the move would encourage owners to more quickly sell or rent out their properties, and help meet the growing demand for accommodation.

“There will continue to be special arrangements for Armed Forces personnel and for those who might suffer hardship, perhaps due to a sudden death.”

Although the council could to raise extra income from the changes next year, the Government could well claw back the benefits in future year through grant reductions.

The number of properties in Calderdale which have been empty for more than six months has fallen from 2,352 to 2,085 in the past year.