They are Paying the Premium - So Why Bother?


I have recently being targetting empty properties just about to click over from discount to 150% charge. ( A tip I got from Lynne Leach at South Lakeland Disctrict Council). When I mentioned this to my colleagues in Council Tax - the response was the owner is paying the premium, so why bother? Leave them alone!

Well, why bother?

Council tax - discounts, access to info etc

aside from the usual benefits for the local area of returning the property to use etc the argument I have given to c/tax and others querying this is that once a property is occupied you earn NHB for that property plus the actual c/tax that the new occupiers pay so this will always be more than the 150% premium. 


We have had similar sentiments expressed previously in Scotland (although thankfully I would say they are on the decrease).

The standard response to 'why bother' would of course be that what is the point of charging the owners the increased amount if not to encourage them to bring their properties back into use? Surely, it is not simply to generate extra revenue at the expense (to the wider community) of leaving those properties empty indefinitely?

The other argument, as Julia says, is that owners charged the increased amount often don't pay (especially if they have gone AWOL) whereas as a new owner/occupier is far more likely to pay, albeit at the reduced level, but well I would say that any payments at 100% are a great improvement on no payments at 150%! That's just a quick way to rack up sizeable arrears.

All I can say is, thank goodness the world isn't run by people who can only think about money.

Oh...hold on a minute... it is!

More seriously, I would take all the revelant strategic documents from Local Plan to Housing Strategy to Environmental Strategy, extract all the relevant objectives, priorties, aims etc, and send them over with a copy to your manager. I wouldn't treat it too lightly - I'd regard it as more like a contagious disease and even before EHP came along, EHPs used to face the issue of council tax departments disregarding reports that homes were empty if full council tax was being paid.

Of course the NHB versus premium argument is applicable (not in Scotland though) but the main point is that it is not all about money.

I have the same issue at Tameside.  The only time CTax gets interested is when the return is due and NHB is raised.  Incidentally I cant even persuade them to consider converting the CTax debt on EP to a charge in order to enforce against the property

If it was just a matter of revenue. I'll let you do the sums

Compare 100 homes on a C. Tax. charge of 150% with 100 LTEH returned to use include the 100% C Tax and any ensuing NHB.  

Hi David

Completely agree - for England. But not in Scotland or Wales (no NHB). And NHB is under threat in England, with changes that may end up making it of minimal importance in quite a number of authorities, and particualrly those with lots of empties (low demand areas) if thresholds are introduced (i.e. you only get NHB if you achieve a certain level of success).

So we always have to emphasise the other benefits of empty homes work too.

Hi David,

firstly waking up to a different country this morning, I am finding it difficult to even begin to weigh up the impact.

Back on topic, I totally agree with your comments on NHB. So I have taken NHB out of the recent analysis of £255k grant scheme. Still looks like excellent value for money?

Economic Benefit
based on 12 mth period


Grants awarded
 £       255,724.00

Client Contributions
 £       558,882.73

Total Value Works
 £       814,606.73

First Occupation Expenditure*
 £       270,000.00
Carpets, Decoration etc.

New Resident Expenditure*
 £         10,044.00
*Nathaniel Lichfield Partners Study Aug 14

Building Reg Fees
 £           3,990.00
Fees vary according to works

Planning Fees
 £           3,750.00
Fees vary according to application

Rental Income
 £       262,440.00
Based on 2 bed LHA rate £4,860 pa

Council Tax
 £           5,400.00
Move from 90% to 100% Band A/B

Homeless Prevention §
 £         10,240.00
Saving £1,280 / case § Heriot-Watt University Study 2007 

Total Value of Benefits
 £    1,380,470.73

Value / unit
 £         25,564.27

Ratio Benefit / Grant

 I am happy for anyone to check my sums and comment.