Committee ponders scrapping empty homes council tax rebates in West Norfolk

GV of  the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn
GV of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn

Council tax discounts for empty or uninhabitable homes in West Norfolk could be scrapped altogether under proposals to be considered next week.

At present, property owners do not pay any council tax for the first month their homes become empty or unfurnished. The period was reduced from three months earlier this year.

There is also a 25 per cent discount, for a maximum of a year, on uninhabitable homes.

But a report to be debated by the council’s corporate performance panel on Monday suggests scrapping the discounts from next April.

Around 130 homes would be affected by the proposals, if they are approved.

And Jo Stanton, the authority’s revenues and benefits manager, said: “The changes can encourage taxpayers to bring their properties back into use or complete structural works sooner than would be the case if there was a discount available.

“They also reduce the cost of council tax discounts, raising extra income to the borough council, county council, the police and crime commissioner and the parish/town councils.”

The report said two other district authorities, Broadland and North Norfolk, have already removed the rebates.

A third, Yarmouth, has no discount for uninhabitable homes and only one month’s relief for empty or unfurnished properties.

It also estimates the measures would generate around £73,000 of extra tax revenue for Norfolk County Council, almost £13,000 for the police commissioner’s office and nearly £7,000 for the borough council.

Last month, officials revealed they would also lobby for a change in the law to allow for higher tax bills to be charged when properties have been empty for more than a year.