Council Tax Changes from 1 April 2013

Council Tax changes from the 1 April 2013

Council Tax legislation has been changed by Central Government. Local Councils now have the option to set the level of discount on certain types of property.

This Council carried out a consultation with local residents and property owners in order to decide which exemptions and discounts to change and met on the 31 January 2013 to confirm their decision.

The consultation started on the 1 August 2012. There was a press release on the 31 July 2012 explaining that South Cambridgeshire District Council would be commencing its consultation on how it would manage the Central Government cut to its funding and that this would start on the 1 August 2012.

The press release outlined areas that might be looked at with regard to council tax discounts and exemptions. The Council also wrote to everyone who was in receipt of any of the discounts or exemptions that could be affected. In addition there were public surgeries around the district between the 3 September and the 29 September 2012. There was information on the Council’s website and an on-line survey on the website both of which were publicised.

The changes that the Council has decided to implement from the 1 April 2013 are as follows:

Class C – Unoccupied and Unfurnished

Class C under the Council Tax legislation is a dwelling which is both unoccupied and unfurnished. Since the introduction of the Council Tax system in 1993 a dwelling meeting these criteria has been entitled to a maximum six month exemption period from the date it became both unoccupied and unfurnished. From the 1 April 2013 there will be no 6 month exemption period and the full charge will be due from the date that the property is both unoccupied and unfurnished.

Class B – Unoccupied and owned by a Charity

If, however, the dwelling is owned by a charity the legislation still allows a six month void period under Class B in the legislation followed by the full charge if the dwelling is not reoccupied by the end of that period. Where this class applies the property may be furnished or unfurnished. The charity concerned must be established for charitable purposes only and the dwelling must, when last occupied, have been occupied in furtherance of the objects of the charity.

50% Council Tax premium on Long Term Empty Homes

Councils also have the option to raise a premium of 50% on any dwelling that has been both empty and unfurnished for a period of 24 months or more. This Council has taken the decision to set such a premium. This means that Council Tax will be due at 150% of the full rate for any dwelling that has already been empty for 24 months or more at that date.

Periods where the dwelling was undergoing major repair work or structural alteration for which Class A exemption of 12 months was given are included in the 24 month period. If you believe that your property would qualify for exemption because it is structurally unsound or is undergoing currently major repair work please put a request in writing to the Council detailing the work being carried out.

An Annexe is exempt from the 50% premium if it is deemed unoccupied because it is being used by the occupier of the main dwelling as part of that dwelling.

No premium will apply to dwellings which would otherwise be the sole or main residence of a person but is empty and unfurnished because that person resides in accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence due to their employment.

Furnished Properties and Second Homes

The Council has also taken the decision to withdraw the 10% discount in respect of furnished second homes with effect from the 1 April 2013 and the charge will therefore be at the full rate from that date.

The Council also considered withdrawing the 12 month exemption on dwellings undergoing major repair work or structural alteration. The decision was to retain this exemption for the coming financial year.

If you have any questions regarding the decisions that have been made you need to direct them to your district councillor details of who can be found on this website. Use our website to search for your district Councillor.

Any queries regarding the criteria in respect of discounts or exemptions should be directed to revenues@scambs.gov.uk.

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