Message from VOA

Hi

We have received this message below from our VOA. It relates to new-build but suggests that an NHB calculation is going ahead this year.

In light of this, we will be doing an exercise to ensure the number of empties is minimised, in case empties form part of the calculation too.

We are aware of the importance of the New Homes Bonus funding for you, and of Council Tax reports.  Please be assured that we remain committed to progressing these cases and are closely monitoring performance.

We will endeavour to clear as many New Homes Bonus cases as possible in time for you to submit your figures to MHCLG. You may find it helpful to prioritise the submission of your reports, sending us those that are of most value to you first.

Whilst we understand the importance of this work, it would help us if you could keep any enquiries you have on individual reports to a minimum, as this diverts resources away from processing them. Thank you for working with us on this.

Local Authority Engagement Team

19 June 2020

Forums: 
New Homes Bonus

Hi Sue, (and everyone else)

We received an identical message from the VOA last year which sparked quite a lot of further discussion in the Forum Topic: 'Has NHB ceased (so currently no benefit in data cleansing)?' 

However, despite various attempts to find out if NHB was continuing and if Empty Properties would be included in the October 2019 count, no-one from the VOA or MHCLG was able to provide any kind of response…..but the NHB calculation went ahead anyway.

Since then, various of us in EHN have still been trying to get some (any) kind of answer from the VOA or MHCLG about the future of NHB (see the forum posts), because in the last published statement about it in the Government’s Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2020 to 2021 statement, issued in 20 December 2019, it stated:

“…………….It is not clear that the New Homes Bonus in its current form is focussed on incentivising homes where they are needed most. I am therefore announcing that the government will consult on the future of the housing incentive in the spring”

When the MHCLG were pressed for an update/response on this in March (by James from York City Council), they merely repeated the above and added “..(NHB) Funding beyond 2020/21 will be a matter for the Spending Review later this year”.

Of course we all understand that, the Government has had other more pressing matters on its mind of late but we’re well past spring now and there still does not appear to be any trace of either an update from the MHCLG, a follow up official statement, or any consultation papers issued about the future of NHB.

Interestingly though, in a further forum post James (again from York) advised that his Finance Team had stated they were very certain that this year was the last payment (i.e. based on the figures from Oct 19), and they had referred to an email they had received.

So….in summary, when the VOA issues (another) statement like this, implying that there will be another NHB calculation this year… it’s very worrying. Especially when all other sources indicate that this may not be the case and we’re still awaiting official consultation on this or an alternative incentive.  (Unless of course the Government has changed its mind)

I think for all Empty Property Practitioners sake it's now really important that we finally get confirmation from a reliable source in the MHCLG about the NHB situation for this and future years, rather than rely on what the VOA statement suggests/implies might be.

But….since so many of us are finding this so difficult to pin down, I’m wondering if you or any other EHN member has any reliable contacts at the MHCLG or VOA, or knows of how to get any kind of  ‘committed’ update from them?  If so, please can you share these?

I’m sure I can’t be the only one living in continual uncertainly about NHB!!  Can anyone help clear this up once and for all??

Patrick Gordon

Empty Property Officer

Brighton & Hove City Council