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COUNCILLOR QUESTIONS SWHROPSHIRE CABINET OVER COUNCIL TAX INJUSTICE

January 12, 2022 11:27 AM

Nigel Hartin, Lib dem Shropshire Councillor for Clun Division, is raising the issue of Shropshire Council raising Council tax charges of up to 300% on houses that are currently being renovated with the Council Cabinet..

Nigel said: "This policy, which is meant to discourage empty properties, unfortunately, penalises many who are trying to build homes for themselves by renovating properties in disrepair. Talking to my colleagues across Shropshire it is clear that this is quite a widespread problem."

Nigel's question is:

Question RE: Council Tax Policy - Long Term Empty Properties.

Council Tax policy, as it currently stands, on long-term empty properties, levies an additional charge of up to 300% extra on long-term empty properties until the properties are again lived in. This applies not only to owners of such properties who have kept them empty for many years but also to new owners purchasing such properties should they be sold on.

I have become aware that this policy is having, what I assume to be, unintended consequences. I have two such properties in my Division which have been purchased by two young people to bring back into use as first homes. The condition of the properties when purchased, being uninhabitable without significant updating, making them affordable for them to purchase in what would otherwise be a housing market out of their financial reach. They were therefore very pleased to be able to acquire these two small linked terraced homes and looking forward to being able to bring them back into habitable condition with the help of family members in the building trade. What they did not know until after purchase was that they would be hit by punitive Council Tax Levies, amounting in one case to more than the mortgage payments, which they could not possibly afford to pay.

On my advice, both submitted Section 13A appeals to the Head of Finance, which have been subsequently rejected by the Council. This may result in the properties having to be sold on (probably to a developer with large pockets who could afford the short-term financial hit whilst the properties were brought back into a liveable condition).

  1. Is the Portfolio holder for Finance aware that Council policy, as currently set out, actively discourages long-term properties being brought back into use other than by large scale developers or the very rich?
  2. Will the portfolio holder bring forward proposals to full Council to stop this happening in the future so that other young people's dreams of home ownership are not trashed in this way in the future?