Councillors at Lewes District Council have recommended a change in the rules that govern council tax discounts on empty and unfurnished homes, a move that will generate £28,000 of additional funding to help people on the lowest incomes.
If approved by Full Council, the decision will abolish the council tax discount that taxpayers, usually a landlord, currently receives for one month on an empty and unfurnished property.
The new system will encourage property owners to avoid having properties that are not occupied and allow the council to give more assistance to the most vulnerable residents.
People who have moved into a care home or hospital will not be affected by the change in discount arrangements. Similarly, the discounts registered social landlords receive will not change.
Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council, said:
“The assumed minimum income floor that is used for calculating benefits leaves some of our most worse off residents facing severe day-to-day challenges.
“Our decision puts in place extra funding to help self-employed claimants, while also discouraging property owners from leaving the homes they own empty.
Councillor Nicholson added:
“There are too many people in society who are struggling to afford even the most basic essentials, things that most are able to take for granted.
“Our scope as a local authority to address this imbalance is limited due to the cuts in funding we receive from central government. However, the Co-operative Alliance at Lewes District Council will do everything possible to make the lives of local people in need, a little less challenging than they are now.”
Cabinet also agreed to adopt the current Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2020/2021, subject to approval by Full Council.