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Council Tax and Business Rate Policies 2017/18

Published: 13/01/2017

Each year, all Councils need to approve certain policies for the administration of Council Tax and Business Rates. This forms part of the Council Tax setting process and takes into consideration the circumstances in which the Council will award local taxation discounts and/or reliefs to ensure council tax and business rate bills are calculated correctly. For the year 2017-2018, it is recommended to the Council’s Cabinet that from April 2017 the council will introduce a 50% Council Tax premium on second homes and long term empty properties that have been left vacant for a period of 12 months. This has been designed to encourage owners to bring these properties back into full use to address local housing need, support the increase of affordable housing for purchase or let and enhance the appearance of local communities. Residents can be assured of safeguards designed to help those who may be finding it difficult to bring properties back into use. For example, owners may be entitled to a 12 month exemption from the premium if their property is being marketed for sale or let. Cabinet will also be asked to note the implementation of a new Discretionary Business Rate Relief Policy (DBRRP) agreed in July 2016. Under the DBRRP discretionary ‘top-ups’ will cease to be made to organisations already benefitting from Mandatory Rate Relief. All other Discretionary awards to Voluntary and ‘Not for Profit’ organisations will be reduced to a maximum discount of 80%. To ensure the long term sustainability of the Charitable and Voluntary sectors, a framework is also being introduced to deal with any hardship cases that may arise as an additional ‘safety net’. It is also recommended that the Council continue with the current policy to consider Discretionary Council Tax discounts only in cases of civil emergencies and natural disasters and of not awarding ‘top-up’ discretionary discounts to businesses already qualifying for Small Business Rate Relief. Cllr. Aaron Shotton, Leader of the Council said; “It is important that the Council does all it can to ensure that as many as possible of nearly 900 privately-owned empty properties in our County are brought back into use. The council offers empty property owners a variety of ways to help them get their properties back into full use, including loans and grant schemes and I would urge owners of such properties to take advantage of these schemes. The Council recognises the important role of all charities, voluntary groups and not-for-profit organisations and the new DBRRP strikes the right balance with continuing to offer generous levels of rate relief but one which helps the Council to bridge budget reductions. I would also urge all eligible local groups to take advantage of the Welsh Government small business rate relief scheme.” The Council’s Cabinet will consider recommendations for the administration of Council Tax and Business Rates for 2017/18 at its meeting on 17 March.