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Second home owners’ discounts could be cut

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wants councils to have more flexibility over council tax discounts for second home owners, allowing them to further reduce the discounts if they prefer.

If councils cut the discounts offered to second home owners, this could reduce the typical band D tax bill paid by everyone else.

Pickles said: “By removing the subsidised tax breaks for empty homes and second homes, we can cut £20 a year off families’ council tax bills.

“Councils should make it easier to pay bills, and offer the same discounts for electronic billing that other companies offer as standard – this will cut paperwork and help reduce tax bills.”

Out of 328 local authorities, 205 currently offer discounts of 10% and 88 offer 50% to second home owners, while the rest reduce the levy somewhere between the two.

Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA, said: “Local authorities believe in greater local decision making and flexibility over taxation, including council tax. Any new way to achieve this, such as the plans over second homes and empty homes, is a positive step.

“However, councils have already been given a 10% cut in council tax benefit – leaving them out of pocket – so passing on any savings to local people will be difficult.

“Any decisions on this, or any other proposal on paying council tax in installments, should be made locally by individual local authorities.”

The proposals would not take effect for two years, and will now undergo consultation.

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