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Technical Reforms of Council Tax: Consultation Response

Policy area: Finance, Performance & Procurement

Date of publication: 17 January 2012

File type: PDF Opens in a new window PDF, 59kb

The consultation presents a number of proposals on devolving more discretion to local authorities over the reliefs to council tax available in respect of empty homes and some other empty properties, as well as other potential reforms of the council tax system. It complements the consultation on the localisation of council tax support.

The main changes to the current council tax regime under consideration are:

  • Giving billing authorities power to levy up to full council tax on second homes
  • Replacing certain exemption classes in relation to empty homes with discounts, and allowing local authorities to determine the rate of discount applicable
  • Abolishing exemption Class L (unoccupied property taken into possession by a mortgage lender) thus making mortgagees liable to council tax in respect of these properties
  • Allowing billing authorities to levy an 'empty homes premium' in respect of dwellings left empty for two years or more
  • Setting the default payment option for council tax paid in instalments to 12 months (instead of the current 10 months)
  • Allowing authorities to publish 'Information to be supplied with demand notices' online
  • Other technical changes relating to 'rent a roof' solar panels.

The proposals present a number of concerns, including:

  • The reforms being focused on a limited aspect of council tax relief
  • The proposal to move to a system being based on 12 monthly installments and
  • The implementation timetable in light of wider local government finance reform. 

In its response Opens in a new window, London Councils broadly welcomes many of the proposals in relation to the limited scope of the consultation. However, it urges calls for the scope of the proposals to be widened to other areas of council tax relief.

Furthermore, the response calls for:

  • No default arrangement of 12 monthly installments for payment of council tax, unless a decision is made by the authority itself to switch
  • A reconsideration of the proposed timetable so as to ensure that the implemented measures achieve the aims of the policy.

The consultation closed on 29 December 2011.