Are councils doing a cash grab at a time when people can least afford it?

Lets take an ordinary couple. They got married 3 years ago – but didnt properly move in together until one of them sold their house which was in a different town.

They lived in a nice house in Nottinghamshire but wanted somewhere bigger and were in the nice position to be able to put an offer in on a bigger property on the same street as they were living.

They move in to the new house and continue to try to sell the old one (on the same street). After 6 months they have to start paying 50% council tax on the empty property. That’s fine as they really wanted to get rid of the house.

Today they get a letter from the local authority saying that their empty property will only get a 10% discount on their council tax – meaning they will pay 90% council tax on it. The reason given – is they think it will encourage vacant properties back to the market!!

Yet… and get this, under the law, the husband could move across the road which would mean only 75% council tax could be levied due to single person occupancy, and the new house would also have its council tax reduced to 75% for exactly the same reason.

So a married couple could live apart, use more council services, yet save money – whilst it would also have the opposite effect of removing housing stock from the market.

Is this story make-believe? No… its the situation me and Mrs Tory Radio are now faced with thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council. Makes no sense… but then when has the tax system even made sense?

The question I have is are councils across the country bumping up their council tax rates for vacant properties at a time when thousands of people cant sell their houses and can least afford to be hit with higher bills?

One Response to Are councils doing a cash grab at a time when people can least afford it?

  1. Andrzej Fryzicki says:

    It is at times such as these that we begin to truly appreciate the PM who was; Margaret Thatcher. Way ahead of her time, she tried to introduce a fairer council tax system commonly referred to as the 'poll tax'. A sort of 'pay-per-person' levy which didn't set the council tax on the value of a property but, by the number of adult people living in it.

    How fitting would it be therefore, to have just such a system in place for today. If you don't live in a property, you don't pay the council. If you live ten to a house ( as some migrant workers from Eastern Europe* often do ), then you ALL pay your fair share toward the council services which you are using. (*nb. whether they would all admit to living at one address is questionable, but that's not the point being made here.)

    What some district councils are now doing, and having the powers to do so is, nothing short of 'legalised theft'. Demanding payments of up to 90% of the rateable value of an EMPTY property for services which they can never deliver because neither the owner, nor anyone else is living there is surely wrong. How on earth is that fair?

    The councils will argue, that if your unoccupied house were to catch alight then the fire brigade would still be there to put it out, or if you were to be broken into then the police would still be there to assist. After all, both are paid for, in part, by the council. OK. That's fine and quite understandable. However, I doubt very much that 90% of any councils' budget goes toward these two services alone, which leads onto the question;

    "is it legal for councils to charge for services which they cannot possibly deliver to YOU?". In particular, refuse collection charges which you don't use or, council admin and enforcement expenses for which you have no need for, to name but a few.

    Perhaps, one day, a solicitor, a lawyer or a barrister will be affected by this and challenge the legality such a percieved democracy.

    I suspect that there are two main reasons for such behaviour.

    1. The councils are afraid of not reaching Government set targets on tax collection stats for fear of penalties.

    2. They don't give a damn about you anyway. After all, if you don't live there, then you're not going to vote against them, are you?

    Time for change.

    Andy.

    ____________________________

    ps. I don't own multiple properties. I rent just the one. I beleive in fair taxes, that's all.

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