West Oxfordshire council is the latest to demand new government legislation to increase council tax on empty and second homes in a bid to increase the homes available for local people.
The legislation is contained in the Levelling Up Bill currently going to Parliament but it is not yet law and local authorities cannot levy any additional council tax until at least 2024.
Councillor Dan Levy, West Oxfordshire’s executive member for finance, says: “We are supporting this new government legislation with the intention of making more homes available to local people. The cost of housing in West Oxfordshire makes it very difficult for local people to buy local homes. Second homes and empty homes only drive up house prices in the area and we have a significant number in West Oxfordshire.
“We hope that the legislation will lead to more homes being available for our residents and so we will be adopting this legislation once it has passed through government.
“The additional income brought into the council from the empty and second homes will also help us to continue to support local services for residents at a time when government funding is reducing.”
In May 2022, the government published the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. This includes proposals aimed at further addressing empty properties through the reduction in the time after which a premium on an empty property can be charged - dropping from two years to one year.
It will also allow councils to introduce a council tax premium of up to 100 per cent on second homes.
The legislation has not yet been passed by the government but various councils are supporting the measures in principle to allow them to be applied once the legislation is passed.
It would be expected that any new charges would come into effect from April 2024 or 2025 depending on when the legislation receives Royal Assent.