Bridgend to launch consultation on raising council tax for second homes and empty properties
Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter
Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet has approved plans to start a consultation process on increasing council tax for second homes and long term empty properties.
In the meeting that took place yesterday (November 15) council bosses heard how these increased taxes could assist in helping the local authority bring long-term empty homes back into use, providing safe, secure, and affordable homes for residents across the borough.
It would also add to the local council’s net revenue budget, a budget of which 27% is currently made up from council tax collected from local residents.
It is proposed that a premium of 100% be charged on both long term empty homes and second homes in the borough for an initial period of two years, with a proposal that this be increased to 200% from year three.
From April 1, 2017, councils in Wales have been able to charge higher amounts of up to 100% on top of the standard rate of council tax on long-term empty homes and second homes.
The legislative changes were made by the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and the powers given to councils are discretionary.
In line with Welsh Government guidance, the local authority is allowed to retain any additional funds generated by this premium. Authorities are also encouraged to use the additional revenue to help meet local housing needs.
As of October 2022, data showed that there are 701 long-term empty properties in the county borough, with 275 of these properties having been vacant for over five years.
A long-term empty property is defined as a place of residence, which is both unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least one year.
After approval from members a four week consultation period will begin, starting on November 16, and including the council writing directly to the owner of every empty property to invite their feedback.
If further approved, the plans would likely be put in place for the 2023-24 financial year, which would give the council time to make sure residents are aware of the change.
Cllr Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Future Generations and Wellbeing, said: “When so many people are facing the very real threat of homelessness, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure all empty properties are being made available.
“While new homes are key, they take time to develop, and I hope this move will ensure that existing residential stock is being brought back on to the market sooner rather than later.
“It’s also reassuring to see that Welsh Government encourage any additional revenue to be used to invest in local housing, which can have an additional positive effect for our community.”
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It is worth noting that sometimes people buy a second home because they work it the area. They live in their second home in the week and return to their main residence at weekends.
I work in construction. Our travelling site staff just rent digs. Who needs a whole second home just during the working week and more importantly who could afford it? And IF they can afford it, they can also afford full council tax.
Why don’t they just move here full-time then?