Bristol’s Labour cabinet today confirmed plans to increase the rate of council tax on long-term empty properties to 300%, having already scrapped the 50% discount in place under the previous Mayor.

Mayor Marvin Rees’ administration also today reaffirmed its commitment to the £40 million Council Tax Reduction Scheme, the last of its kind in the core cities, which provides a discount of up to 100% for the poorest households in Bristol.

Councillor Marg Hickman (Labour – Lawrence Hill), welcoming the decision at cabinet, said:

“Only Labour votes protected the full £40 million Council Tax Reduction scheme for our poorest residents last year. The CTRS benefits some 25,000 households across the city, of which more than 2,500 are in Lawrence Hill ward.

“Our Labour votes at the Budget also scrapped the discount provided for second homes and empty properties under the former Mayor, despite the opposition of the other parties. Our Labour administration has also become one of the first local authorities in the country to introduce a council tax exemption for care leavers up to their 25th birthdays.

“Today’s policies are part of our efforts to tackle the Bristol’s inequality and housing crisis. Our Labour administration will have delivered a six-fold increase in council tax on second homes and empty properties – while delivering on our ambitious manifesto targets for new homes, including new affordable homes – generating hundreds of thousands of pounds more each year to invest in Bristol.”

 

Notes to Editor

 There are currently 291 domestic properties which have been empty and unfurnished for at least two years. Cabinet approved proposals to increase council tax on long-term empty properties – defined as being unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for at least two years – to up to 300% (the maximum permitted under legislation) as below.

Dwelling empty for less than five years, but at least two years Dwelling empty for less than ten years, but at least five years Dwelling empty for ten years or more
2019/20 100% 100% 100%
2020/21 100% 200% 200%
2021/22 100% 200% 300%

The council tax premium will not apply in certain circumstances, for instance where an owner has gone into a hospital or care home, has moved to another residence to receive or provide care, has died.

Bristol City Council estimates that this policy will raise an additional gross council tax income of £189,000 during 2019/20 for the local authority: https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/documents/b11574/Supplement%20to%205th%20February%20Cabinet%2005th-Feb-2019%2016.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=9

At February 2018’s Budget meeting, Labour councillors voted through measures including the Council Tax Reduction Scheme – following Mayor Marvin Rees’ announcement in his October 2017 State of the City speech that the scheme would be protected.

All of the opposition parties (the Green Party, Lib Dems, and Conservatives) voted against this, with the Tories even moving a ‘poor tax’ amendment to scrap the full discount scheme – impoverishing the poorest Bristolians.

Council tax reduction/exemption is provided to around 10,000 pensioners and students in Bristol as a result of statutory requirements. The working-age reduction scheme (CTRS) provides support to a further circa 25,000 households. An estimate of the number of working-age households helped by the scheme is set out below, ward-by-ward. The same analysis found that single parents, disabled people, members of black and minority ethnic communities, and women disproportionately benefit from the scheme. More than 9,300 working-age households in receipt of the CTRS are from just five of Bristol’s 34 wards (highlighted): Hartcliffe & Withywood, Lawrence Hill, Avonmouth & Lawrence Weston, Filwood, and Ashley.

Ward Number of households
Ashley 1,373
Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston 1,521
Bedminster 406
Bishopston and Ashley Down 162
Bishopsworth 454
Brislington East 614
Brislington West 465
Central 787
Clifton 277
Clifton Down 163
Cotham 242
Easton 916
Eastville 929
Filwood 1,407
Frome Vale 700
Hartcliffe and Withywood 2,508
Henbury and Brentry 973
Hengrove and Whitchurch Park 856
Hillfields 765
Horfield 647
Hotwells and Harbourside 190
Knowle 615
Lawrence Hill 2,501
Lockleaze 913
Redland 175
Southmead 953
Southville 546
St George Central 777
St George Troopers Hill 171
St George West 420
Stockwood 608
Stoke Bishop 244
Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze 164
Windmill Hill 622

The cabinet report regarding the Council Tax Reduction Scheme can be found here: https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=18357&PlanId=0&Opt=3#AI15147

 

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