West Norfolk empty homes tax rebate set to be reduced, but not scrapped

West Norfolk Council's offices
West Norfolk Council's offices

Plans to cut the council tax rebates that are currently offered to the owners of empty and uninhabitable homes in West Norfolk have been backed by council chiefs.

But they have so far stopped short of abolishing the discounts altogether, which had been suggested as an alternative, and potentially more lucrative, option by officials.

Members of the borough council’s ruling cabinet have voted to reduce the duration of the authority’s current exemption from council tax payments on empty homes from three months to one.

They have also backed measures to cut the discount on uninhabitable properties from the present 50 per cent to 25 per cent.

If endorsed by the full council, who will debate them next month, the reductions will come into force next April.

The measures, which officials estimate will raise nearly £400,000 in extra tax revenue, were one of three options proposed to the cabinet ahead of their meeting on Tuesday evening.

The alternatives were to abolish the discounts altogether, which was expected to raise around £600,000, or to reduce the duration of the current rebates to one month while keeping the amounts as they are, which would generate around £370,000.

As well as generation additional revenue, the council believes that reducing the discounts will force developers to bring properties back into use more quickly.

Last week, the borough was revealed to have more empty homes than any other council area in the East of England.

The council insists it is taking steps to address the number of long-term empty properties, which has fallen in recent years.

But union officials have called for tougher measures to force property owners to bring buildings back into regular use.