Home tax discount slashed

A LOCAL authority in Suffolk is set to levy higher bills on hundreds of second homeowners by slashing their Council Tax discount.Ipswich Borough is planning to cut the concession for holiday homeowners to 10% and scrap the discount given to people owning empty properties.

A LOCAL authority in Suffolk is set to levy higher bills on hundreds of second homeowners by slashing their Council Tax discount.

Ipswich Borough is planning to cut the concession for holiday homeowners to 10% and scrap the discount given to people owning empty properties.

It is estimated that the move could generate up to £400,000 for the county, and about £80,000 for Ipswich alone, leading to lower Council Tax rises for other ratepayers.

Until now people owning second homes or leaving their properties empty long-term enjoyed a 50% discount on their Council Tax bills.


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New Government legislation allows billing authorities to cut the discounts and Ipswich Borough Council is hoping to reduce it to the minimum amount allowed.

Councillor John Le Grys, who is responsible for finance and human resources, said that there were about 732 empty homes in the borough and about 164 second homes.

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He said: "The second homes is very much about an opportunity. The homes are being lived in for part of the time but we have to commit council services to them. The old 50% really did not cover the commitment to them.

"I believe the empty homes is much more important. We have a serious problem with homelessness and inadequate housing in Ipswich."

He added that the lack of a discount for empty homes would encourage the owners to bring the buildings back into use alleviating homelessness as well as the first-time buyers and rental markets.

But he said that Ipswich would probably not receive the estimated £80,000 as people with empty homes would try to re-classify them as second homes by staying in them once a year or would sell them straightaway.

Instead he is budgeting for about £50,000, which would be used to "deal with the difficulties that Ipswich, like other councils, has on Council Tax".

But he added that he was not annoyed that most of the money would be used countywide and not just in the borough.

"I do not believe that the borough council has a right to determine how the county council will spend its money and where it will spend it. It determines its priorities itself for the provision of services."

He added: "It is not sustainable to say we collected this tax in Ipswich so we get to spend it in Ipswich."

The discounts will be ratified at the full council meeting on Wednesday and will come into effect on April 1.

Suffolk Coastal District Council Cabinet last week agreed to reduce the council tax discount on second homes to 10% and also to remove the 50% discount on the district's 800 empty homes.

The savings mean around £115,800 extra for Suffolk Coastal and £901,600 for the county council.

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