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£4m boost for city in Council Tax shake-up
More than £4 million could be generated across Bradford after the Government relaxed rules on Council Tax breaks for empty and second homes.
Discounts on second homes and properties lying vacant suck millions out of the local economy, increasing other residents’ bills.
But now the Government claims money can be saved as councils will be given powers to abolish discounts, in turn saving the average household £20 on its Council Tax by forcing homeowners with second homes and empty properties to pay more.
At present an empty dwelling undergoing major alterations or repair is exempted from Council Tax for up to 12 months, but this will be abolished and councils can set a discount at anywhere between zero and 100 per cent for a maximum of 12 months.
This could mean that whoever owns the property could then have to pay tax on it, rather than pay nothing. After that councils can set a discount between nought and 50 per cent. Figures in the House of Commons library show council services in Bradford would be boosted by £4.620 million if all discounts were ended. This figure includes £4.26 million relating to homes that are long-term unoccupied.
Coun David Green, leader of Bradford Council, said: “The issue has be to seen in the context of significant Government cuts to grants which includes a reduction in Council Tax benefit of more than £4 million. If this reduction was passed on in full to our residents, then Council Tax would actually increase for some of our poorest people.
“In view of this, we are looking at all the options relating to discounts on Council Tax and they will be incorporated in a report going shortly to the Council's Executive which considers as a whole the large and complex area of welfare reform.”
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “This Government is on the side of ordinary families, who work hard and do the right thing.”
There will be no changes to homes which are empty due to the death of the owner or if the resident is in care or hospital.