Labour Councillors have urged Westminster Council to follow Boris Johnson’s call to increase the Council Tax to 150% on long-term empty homes.
Speaking from the World Economic Development Forum in Davos, London Mayor Boris Johnson called on London Conservative Councils to adopt Camden’s approach for Council Tax to be “whacked up” to 150% for long-term empty properties.
Speaking in today’s Times (page 8) he said: “I see no reason why Kensington and Chelsea shouldn’t apply the same measure” and added, “If 150 per cent increase isn’t enough, I’d go up a multiple of that.”
Last year Camden increased Council tax to 150% on furnished properties left empty for more than 2 years. This move led to a reduction in the number of empty homes in the borough by 35% in just nine months. The extra 50% council tax charge introduced last year on homes that have been empty for more than two years has helped reduce the number of long-term empty homes in Camden from 248 to 162.
Labour Councillors urged Westminster to follow Camden’s lead last year but the Conservatives failed to do so, thereby missing out on the opportunity to bring many empty homes back in to use. There are an estimated 3,000 empty properties in Westminster.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;
“Increasing the Council Tax to 150% for long –term empty properties in Westminster would bring many homes back in to use that are now vacant. This is a practical, proven and common-sense proposal which has worked successfully next door in Camden. It would make sense to follow Camden and Boris Johnson, who both support this proposal from opposing political standpoints, to bring much-needed empty homes back into use”
– Empty properties without furniture used to be exempt for six months in England and then get a 50% discount. Now councils can decide to charge the full payment from the start.
– Once a property has been empty for two years Councils can charge a premium of 50% on top of full Council Tax.