The End of Second Home Council Tax Discount in Cornwall

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet is set to introduce large-scale changes (if fully approved) to certain areas of Council Tax discount. It is recommended to stop the second home discount, currently set at 10%; change the discount on an empty property, and introduce a premium charge for those dwelling that have been left vacant for long periods.

I am sure the first change of ending the second home discount will be welcomed. It is a bone of contention with permanent residents that this discount is still available.  It used to be up to 50%, but this was changed a few years ago to 10%. Now from 2013, there will be no discount. With the removal of this discount, Cornwall Council will receive an extra £1.6 million in Council Tax revenue. I very much welcome this change, though, I have one small concern. This concern is how does the council keep a simple track on the number of second homes in an area? The discount was a good way of knowing this. With the removal of the discount, it will be a lot harder to track the number of second homes in an area.

Another big change is on the Council Tax discount for an empty dwelling. It is proposed that if the dwelling is undergoing major repair/renovation, the owner will get a Council Tax discount of 50% for the first year only. They will then have to pay the full amount. This is a change from an exemption for one year, and then the full amount. If a house if not undergoing repairs, and is just empty, a discount of 100% will be given for the first month only, thereafter the full council tax will be applied.

With so many long-term empty dwellings in Cornwall, the council is set to introduce a levy, or premium for those dwelling that are left long-term empty. This will be an extra 50% change. So if a dwelling is vacant for over 2 years, the owner will be required to pay 150% of the Council Tax. It is hoped this will encourage owners of these long-term empty dwellings to bring them back into use.

I believe the council is taking the right steps in these proposals and I hope the Cabinet will adopt them this Wednesday. These changes will be in effect from 2013/14 tax year. The full report is HERE. The meeting is webcast from 10am via the Cornwall Council website.

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