Second home council tax decision deffered

Dorset Council’s Cabinet has taken the decision to defer their “Council tax premiums on second homes and empty properties” report to allow more councillors to be involved before a decision is made.

The report recommends that the Council should take advantage of flexibilities contained in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which, if it becomes law, will enable the introduction of a 100% council tax premium on second homes. As written, the Bill requires the Council to make a decision a year in advance of introducing a premium on second homes and so the earliest the change could be introduced is from April 2024.

A 100% premium could bring in an extra £9.5 million of council tax revenue from second home owners each year. Another change proposed in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill would enable the Council to introduce a premium where a dwelling has been empty for a year.

Deputy Leader of Dorset Council Cllr Peter Wharf was set to present the report at today’s (Monday 23 January) Cabinet meeting. However, the Cabinet agreed that the report should be discussed by as many councillors as possible before it is taken to a vote at Full Council.

Cllr Wharf said, “Parliament is still considering the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which will give us the flexibility to apply a council tax premium on second homes and other homes if they have been empty for a year. We originally had a report about this on today’s Cabinet agenda so that a recommendation could be made to the February Full Council meeting. As the Bill is still being considered in Parliament we have a great opportunity to further discuss and debate the report locally.”

The report will now be added as a new item to the Place and Resources Overview Committee on Thursday 9 February to consider before providing recommendations to Cabinet on Tuesday 28 February. If agreed, it will then go to a Full Council meeting at the end of March, which has been brought forward from April so the proposed introduction of the premium isn’t delayed.

Cllr Wharf continued, “This ensures as many different opinions as possible are heard before we make such an important decision, and demonstrate the transparency of local democracy in Dorset. I strongly encourage everyone to follow this report’s committee journey by going to our website and watching our live and recorded video streams. If you have an opinion or question about the report, please contact us via the committee webpages or engage with your ward councillor to make your views known. I look forward to hearing – and participating in – the discussion around this report next month.”

In order for the premium to be implemented in 2024, the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill must have received Royal Assent by 1 April 2023. According to the council tax database, there are 5,722 second homes registered in Dorset.

All three meetings where the report will be considered will be available to watch online via the Dorset Council website.