Empty homes targeted in tax shake-up plans

Coun Peter Gibson
Coun Peter Gibson

Efforts to help cut the number of empty homes in Wyre, and at the same time help a council tax freeze, are in the pipeline.

Wyre Council is worried about the number of homes in the borough which are standing empty. There are currently 1,418 properties unoccupied borough-wide - meaning no council tax from them going into the council’s coffers.

Now the government, as part of reforms of the council tax system, wants Wyre Council to review the discounts and exemptions it offers which determine how much council tax, if any, owners of empty properties have to pay.

Currently those with vacant properties pay nothing for the first six months and 50% of the bill after six months. The council is recommending that from April next year they will pay nothing for the first month, 50% of the bill in months to to six and then 75% thereafter.

Similarly, empty properties in need of or awaiting major repairs are currently exempt from council tax for up to12 months.

If the proposed changes are accepted at a meeting of the full council meeting tomorrow, the exemption will be replaced by a locally determined discount and owners will have to pay 50% of their council tax bill.

The proposals would generate approximately £500,000 for the council.

Council leader Coun Peter Gibson, said: “Empty properties are an increasing blight on our eighbourhoods, especially those left to fall into disrepair.

“With owners paying little or no council tax on these properties there is no deterrent, so these proposed measures should speed up the process of getting them occupied or repaired.

“At the same time, they will raise extra revenue that is desperately needed from April as we are pledging to freeze council tax and go on protecting frontline services.”