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COUNCIL TAX DISCOUNTS TO BE REDUCED

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The council tax discount for second homes in Brighton & Hove is likely to be reduced from 50% to the statutory mini...
The council tax discount for second homes in Brighton & Hove is likely to be reduced from 50% to the statutory minimum of 10% when councillors meet at Wednesday's week's policy & resources committee.

Properties that are left vacant for periods of six months or more will no longer enjoy the 50% discount and from 1 April 2004 owners will have to pay the full council tax, if councillors agree. It is hoped that this will give owners the incentive to find tenants or to sell the property on the open market.

Simon Burgess, deputy chair of policy & resources and finance spokesperson, says: 'Given the housing shortage in the city, the decision to remove the discount on long-term vacant properties could make hundreds of homes available to people in housing need. Properties that are empty for long periods can blight neighbourhoods attracting vandalism, crime and anti-social behaviour.

'Reducing the discount for second homes could see a reduction in the current high demand in the city for second homes. There are currently around 2,600 such homes in the city and this is contributing to the high property prices which in turn drives many local people out of the housing market.'

Councillor Burgess adds: 'I am happy to say that members of all political parties broadly support this proposal which is financially advantageous to the city. It should increase our council tax revenues by about £1m.'

The council's own housing stock would be subject to any increased long-term empty charge, however the council has recently improved the turn around time to re-let its properties and currently less than one half of one per cent of the housing stock would fall into the long-term vacant category.

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