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Housing

Gloucester Council wants to charge 400 per cent council tax on empty homes

Councillors are set to vote on the plans next week in a bid to bring more homes back into use

Empty Homes

Gloucester City Council is set to vote on plans to crack down on long-term empty homes by quadrupling council tax.

If given the green light, homes empty for two years would be subject to a 150 per cent charge if left empty for two years or more.

The tax will rise to double the following April before trebling after the home has been empty for five years and rising to four times as much when the property has been vacant for a decade or more.

Councillors will vote on the proposals at the next cabinet meeting on January 9 with only homes owned by members of the armed forces and ‘granny flats’ – homes that are part of a main residence – exempt.

There are currently around 350 homes left empty in Gloucester for more than two years, while 160 households remain trapped in temporary accommodation.

The council’s plans are intended to discourage home owners from leaving the dwellings empty and bring the homes back into use.

Gloucester City councillor Jennie Watkins, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “Homes that are standing empty not only often attract anti-social behaviour or vandalism but are also often places that could make perfectly good homes for people that are homeless.

“But we do recognise that there might be many reasons why a property is empty, which is why we’ve proposed introducing the charge gradually to give owners the chance to bring their houses back into use.”

Central government’s Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 was granted royal assent in November and promised to give councils in England the power to hike up council tax to target empty homes when it comes into force.

It is also an area where The Big Issue has identified as a key method of tackling homelessness and the housing crisis. We launched our Fill ’Em Up campaign in 2015 to highlight the problem.

Campaign group Action on Empty Homes recently polled MPs to assess support for using council tax to tackle vacant dwellings, discovering that 77 per cent in favour of starting to charge premiums after a property has been left empty for one year, rather than two,

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