Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved (subject to call-in)
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, presented the report regarding the consultation on the proposal to remove the Council Tax discount applied to empty properties and second homes. Members discussed the report, noting the majority of responses had been against the proposal but this had to be weighed against the financial context of the Council. With regards to alternative savings, it was noted that the property portfolio brought in revenue funds and that one off savings was not a sustainable way to address revenue pressures.
1. Considered the outcomes of the consultation exercise attached at Appendix 2; and
2. Agreed to the removal of the discretionary Council Tax discount for empty properties and second homes with effect from 1 April 2022.
Reasons for the decision:
Bury Council, like other local authorities, has seen an increase in demand on public services with reduced funding levels. A number of savings will be proposed to enable it to balance its budget. Some of the savings will affect front line services and may reduce service provision and other savings, like this proposal, have no impact on the levels of service the Council currently provides.
The Council has a strategy of bringing long-term empty homes back into use at the earliest opportunity. The return of long-term empty homes back into the community will not provide the complete solution for the demand for homes within the area, but it will play a part in its solution reducing pressure on the existing housing stock. A new level of charges should help encourage the reintroduction of long-term empty properties. Empty homes have a detrimental impact on surrounding areas and can lead to anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of empty properties.
The proposal affects a small proportion of Bury’s population for a period of time but can deliver significant income for the Council. Other neighbouring authorities in the Greater Manchester area no longer provide discounts on empty properties or second homes and haven’t done for some time.
The policy will reduce the number of empty properties in the Borough and support the Council in achieving a balanced budget for 2022/2023. Recognising that this will protect savings from having to be made from front line services.
Other options considered and rejected:
The Cabinet could choose to make no change to the council tax discounts for empty properties; however, alternative proposals would be required to support the production of a balanced budget, which is a legal requirement.
Publication date: 13/01/2022
Date of decision: 12/01/2022
Decided at meeting: 12/01/2022 - Cabinet