Scottish Government wants to give local authorities new council tax powers

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THE Scottish Government wants to give local authorities the power to impose a levy of up to 100% of the standard council tax charge on empty homes.

As an example based on this year’s charges, the owner of an empty £212,000 house in the Capital could be liable to pay an extra £2,338 council tax.

The Government also wants to see more neighbourhoods reporting empty houses to the council.

There are 22 local authorities currently signed up at the reportemptyhomes.com website but the Government hopes to see all 32 get involved.

The Council Tax on Empty Homes and Housing Support Grant Bill proposals could apply to the current 25,000 properties which have been empty for more than six months and are liable to pay council tax.

If all local authorities decide to use the maximum powers, they could raise up to £30 million per year.

The Bill will also abolish the Housing Support Grant, originally established to subsidise local authorities’ housing budgets by helping pay interest on housing debts.

Launching a consultation on the proposals at Ibroxholm Oval in Glasgow, Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil said: “Although the public purse is under huge financial strain, the Scottish Government is doing all it can to increase the supply of affordable housing across the country.

“One way to do this is to tackle the problem of empty homes which are a wasted resource and often also a blight on local communities as they attract vandalism.

“We are proposing to bring forward legislation to allow councils to charge a council tax levy on homes which have been empty for more than six months.

“It will be up to each council to decide if they want to use the new powers, which could encourage more owners to rent or sell their empty homes.”