Aug 23 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
OWNERS of second or vacant homes could have to fork out full or premium property rates in the future to fill a gap in public finances.
The government is to end the current national scheme of council tax discounts and exemptions and is leaving it up to individual councils to decide which ones to keep or change from April 1 next year.
Harrow Council’s administration has therefore launched a consultation on proposals to scrap discretionary concessions in order to boost income by £750,000 a year.
Portfolio holder for finance, councillor Sachin Shah, said: “More than £60million will be cut from Harrow Council’s budget as a result of the government’s austerity programme.
“We are asking those with the broadest shoulders to make a contribution – those with more than one home. The money saved will be used to ensure the council continues to support the most vulnerable people in Harrow such as social care to elderly people and the most vulnerable who may have little or no money, and no family to support them.”
It is proposed to end the 10 per cent council tax discount applicable to second homes and the up to 12 months’ exemption for vacant properties undergoing structural alterations or major repair.
In both cases, owners would be liable for the full amount.
The six-month exemption on empty properties would similarly be scrapped and, if the home remained unoccupied for two years, the council would impose a surcharge of 50 per cent of the council tax – which for the most expensive Band H residence at this year’s rates would amount to an extra £1,493.
The council’s consultation runs until September 21.
n View and contribute to the consultation at www.harrow.gov.uk/ctaxconsultation