Second home council tax discounts are scrapped

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RESIDENTS who own more than one home face a hike in their council tax next year.

From April, residents will no longer get a 10 per cent discount on second homes, Chichester District Council members agreed at a meeting. Instead, they will have to pay the full rate. The change will net the council £41,000 a year.

Members also voted to scrap the empty homes discount to ‘encourage homes back into use’, expected to raise around £50,000 in a year.

Cllr Tony Dignum said the public had been consulted.

‘Unsurprisingly, the scrapping of the second home discount was not popular with second home owners,’ he said.

‘The other changes were strongly supported and non-second home owners supported the second home discount by almost two-to-one.’

Mr Dignum said the exemption changes were needed because the government is no longer bearing the full cost of council tax benefit. In future, it will only fund 90 per cent.The change will cost Chichester District about £70,000 and West Sussex County Council £600,000 for the Chichester district.

Because the district’s 3,600 pensioners on council tax benefit will be ‘totally unaffected’.it would mean a 20 per cent increase for the district’s 4,200 recipients of working age if exemptions were not changed.

However, the £91,000 from exemption changes means residents will be largely unaffected.

The only change is the introduction of a minimum £1 a week benefit, affecting 20 people currently claiming less than £1 a week.

“This is in contrast to the significant cuts being applied in some other authorities where the full cost of the cut is being passed on,” said Mr Dignum.

He said the changes would cause ‘much discontent and hardship’ elsewhere but not in our district.

Parish councils are also affected by the change but members approved a proposal to ensure ‘no parish will be worse off’.

A government grant of £194,000 for parish councils is expected and councillors agreed to distribute an equivalent sum to that lost by each parish, expected to be a total of £198,271.