Council tax set to double on empty houses

Angus councillors have approved plans that would potentially double council tax charges on empty properties in the county in a bid to bring more housing back into use.

Members of Angus Council’s policy and resources committee agreed with a recommendation from officials to remove the existing 10 per cent council tax discount on long term empty properties and to introduce instead an additional charge of up to 100 per cent - up to twice the normal council tax charge.

In a joint report Ian Lorimer, head of corporate improvement and finance, and Vivien Smith, head of planning and place, recommended the changes begin, on a phased basis, from October 2014 with the removal of the 10 per cent discount at that time.

They further recommended that councillors agree that all additional revenue, less administration costs, be made available to increase affordable housing across Angus.

In their report the officers said that to continue granting 10 per cent discount to long term empty properties reduced the incentive to bring them back into use and did not support the council’s objectives to increase housing supply.

They said that by introducing the additional charge on a phased basis would give taxpayers more time to take action. The remainder would become effective from April 2015.

“This would soften the impact to some extent,” they added.

The committee heard that a survey was carried out of 500 existing empty properties. A total of 162 responses were received which indicated that the majority of owners were keen to bring their properties back into use but were not doing so for a variety of reasons.