Council Tax discounts for some empty homes in the Lancaster district will be changing from April this year.
The decision was made by Full Council in December in light of new flexibilities introduced by the Government to give local authorities the discretion to set their own discounts in certain circumstances.
By removing the discounts, the council hopes to provide a stronger incentive to get empty homes back into use.
The changes in full are:
• Replacement of the current exemption of up to twelve months for properties undergoing or in need of major repairs or structural alteration (Class A), with a discount of 50% for up to 12 months.
• Replacement of the current six month exemption followed by a 50% discount for empty homes (Class C), with an exemption for two months followed by a discount of 50% for up to a further four months only (after which, a full charge would apply).
• Removal of the 10% discount on second homes.
• Introduction of a premium of an additional 50% of council tax due on properties that have been empty for two or more years. The charging policy for this premium will be subject to further guidance, to be issued by the Government in due course.
Councillor Abbott Bryning, Cabinet member with responsibility for finance, said: “The council is facing some very tough decisions in this very harsh financial climate, which is impacting on everyone, not just in this district but across the country.
“By changing certain Council Tax discounts for empty properties, we can not only increase Council Tax income to help lessen future reductions needed in key services, but we can also help to get homes that might otherwise have fallen into disrepair or become the target of crime back into use.”