More second homes near Plymouth to be hit by Council Tax hike
OWNERS of holiday homes in the picturesque South Hams are set to be hit with higher council tax bills to protect poorer families from benefits cuts.
South Hams District Council is to abolish or reduce council tax discounts for owners of second homes or properties that are vacant or need major repair.
Owners of properties that remain empty for more than two years will be charged 150 per cent council tax to encourage the houses to be bought back into use.
About 4,200 second-home owners will lose their 10 per cent council tax discount.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
South Hams is following the example of Plymouth City Council, which announced identical moves earlier this month.
The charges will be introduced next April at the same time as the Government abolishes the council tax benefit system which would have affected around 2,800 working-age households in the district.
In the South Hams, money from the new charges will be used to offset any increases in council tax for these households, many of whom are among the most vulnerable in the South Hams.
All councils in the country have been told to draw up their own localised council tax support schemes.
Cllr John Tucker, leader of South Hams District Council, said: "The Government has given us the opportunity to introduce these extra charges and we feel that second-home owners in particular should contribute fully to our communities at a time when budgets are tight.
"Our poorest residents are already being hit by several cuts in benefits in 2013 and we need to protect them as much as we can.
"We can only guarantee the current level of protection for the next financial year."
The council will also apply for extra funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government to help with the transition to a localised council tax support scheme which is only available to councils which protect the most vulnerable.