Cabinet - Scrapping council tax exemptions for empty homes could raise �1.4m for Redbridge Council

Scrapping council tax exemptions for empty homes could generate �1.4m for Redbridge Council after cabinet members approved plans last night.

Councillors considered reforms of council tax proposed by the government at their meeting in Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.

The additional income will be provided by removing the discounts and exemptions on empty and unfurnished homes in the borough.

Cllr Ian Bond, the council’s deputy leader and the cabinet member for resources, said: “It does give us the opportunity to share the council tax burden on homes that are empty.

“It may not be the ideal tax but it means the cost of services is shared, provided the government allows us to go along on that basis.”

The changes are driven by the Local Government Finance Bill.

And the reforms to council tax on empty homes within the bill are open to consultation with the public until November 9.

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The government proposes devolving the setting of discounts and exemptions to local government.

The cabinet agreed to remove the 10 per cent discount on second homes which are empty and unfurnished, which amounted to �129,000 in 2011/12.

A Class A 100 per cent exemption on homes which are empty, unfurnished and undergoing major repair for up to a year will be scrapped, as will class C exemptions on properties unfurnished and unoccupied for up to six months.

The former exemption amounted to �440,000 in 2011/12, while the latter saw �1.2m granted in the same period. The changes could provide �1.4m to the council and �400,000 to the Greater London Authority.

Cllr Ross Hatfull urged caution while the proposals were under consultation.

He said: “In a couple of months changes could be made. Although it’s a good idea, we have to be a bit cautious with some of these sums.”

Cllr Bond said the council report made it clear it was subject to consultation.

The council will have to agree the changes in a full council meeting ahead of the 2013/14 budget setting process if they are to apply next year.

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