Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill, Third Reading, House of Lords - 18 July 2018

We continue to engage extensively in discussions with the Government on the implementation of further business rates retention and the Fair Funding Review. These reforms are important and are something local government has called for.

Key messages

Hereditaments occupied or owned by the same person (Clause 1)

  • We support the recommendation of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee that the Government should bear the associated costs as a result of the reforms.
  • It is disappointing that the Government announced that no compensation will be payable to local government. The new burdens principle should apply to this retrospective change, in order to fully fund councils for any losses to their income.
  • The Government has not taken steps to address these points in its official response to the Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill. We hope that the Government will continue to engage with the Valuation Office Agency and local government on the Bill’s effects.

Higher amount for long-term empty dwellings (Clause 2)

  • We support the amendment to Clause 2, tabled by the Government, to allow individual councils to increase the empty homes premium thresholds even further for homes empty for five years or longer. This is a positive measure which will enable councils to incentivise owners of long-term empty homes to bring them back into use.
  • We would welcome revised Government guidance on the empty homes premium. Local authorities would benefit from clear guidance in order to implement council tax premiums in accordance with their local housing markets.
  • There are currently more than 200,000 empty properties in England. It is positive that the Government has heeded our recommendation to provide councils with the ability to charge more for empty homes. We continue to call on the Government to bring forward measures to give councils more flexibility on council tax discounts and on the relative burden between valuation bands.

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Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill,  Third Reading, House of Lords - 18 July 2018