West Norfolk Council reveals plan to axe council tax rebates for empty homes

West Norfolk Council's offices
West Norfolk Council's offices
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Landlords in West Norfolk look set to lose council tax discounts on empty, unfurnished and unoccupied properties under new proposals.

The measures, which have already been backed by a borough council committee, is expected to generate more than half a million pounds in additional tax revenues.

But some critics are unhappy that the borough would only receive around 10 per cent of the extra money raised if the scheme is implemented.

At present, the borough council only charges 50 per cent of the normal council tax bill for properties that are unhabitable, and no tax at all on empty or unfurnished homes.

However, the new plan, if implemented, would see full tax bills levied on those properties from next April.

A report presented to the borough council’s corporate performance panel, which backed the idea on Wednesday, said the measure would affect less than one per cent of properties in the borough, a total of 486, and would generate nearly £572,000 of additional tax revenue.

But the document revealed that little more than £60,000 would actually be retained by the borough council.

The largest portion, almost £434,000, would go to Norfolk County Council, with the remaining £77,000 going to the office of the county’s police and crime commissioner.

Committee member David Pope said: “We’re going to raise an extra £572,000, of which we get a paltry £60,000. We only get £60,000 for doing all the work. That doesn’t seem fair to me.”

Chief executive Ray Harding said the county council had agreed to refund the borough’s costs, estimated at around £50,000.

And leader Brian Long said the police portion was more acceptable if it was used for front-line services.

He said: “I’d rather see two extra officers on the beat because that’s the cost it would be.”

If the plans are given the go-ahead, the borough would follow the lead of Broadland council, which is the only one of Norfolk’s districts to have abolished the discounts so far.

Norwich City Council has also removed the discount for empty and unfurnished properties, but still offers a 50 per cent rebate for uninhabitable homes.