Council tax news round-up

posted on 15 February 2019, updated on 15 February 2019

Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018

The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 1 November 2018, and the Bill is now an Act of Parliament (law). Extending to England and Wales only, the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 makes provision, where two or more hereditaments occupied or owned by the same person meet certain conditions as to contiguity, for those hereditaments to be treated for the purposes of non-domestic rating as one hereditament; moreover, it increases the percentage by which a billing authority in England may increase the council tax payable in respect of a long-term empty dwelling.

The Act can be read in its entirety here.

MHCLG’s new burden assessment

In the beginning of November 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) published a new burden assessment pro forma. The new burdens doctrine is part of a suite of measures to ensure council tax payers do not face excessive increases in their council tax.

The doctrine can be found on the MHCLG website.

Council tax base statistics for England

On 14 November 2018, the MHCLG published the council tax base statistics for England. The release gives summary totals, at the England level, of the number of dwellings; the number of dwellings that are exempt from council tax; and the number liable for council tax. For dwellings liable for council tax, it also gives summary figures for the number receiving different types of council tax discounts and premiums.

The statistics can be found here.

Valuation Office Agency publication - council tax stock

On 29 November 2018, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) released their annual publication, which updates their release from the previous year. The publication, which relates to England and Wales only, includes details on the number of properties by council tax band at various geographic levels (national, regional and local authority district). The counts are calculated from domestic property data for England and Wales, extracted from the VOA’s administrative database on 31 March 2018 and 10 September 2018.

The publication can be read here.

Provisional allocation for 2019/20 Localised Council Tax Support Administration Subsidy Grant to local authorities

On 21 December 2018, the MHCLG published a letter and table which show the provisional allocations for the 2019/20 Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) Administration Subsidy Grant. These may be subject to amendment before the final allocations and payments are made to local authorities in April/May 2019 to reflect the most up-to-date case load data. The allocations are based on current local authority area boundaries. Final allocations will reflect any planned changes to boundaries for 2019/20.

The documents can be read here.

Council tax: local referendums

On 6 February 2019, an updated House of Commons Briefing Paper on council tax referendums was released. Since the 2012/13 financial year, local authorities, fire authorities, and police and crime commissioners have been required to determine whether the amount of council tax they plan to raise is ‘excessive’. A set of principles defined by the secretary of state, and approved by the House of Commons, is used by authorities to decide if the amount to be raised is excessive.

Proposed thresholds have been published for the 2019/20 financial year. Authorities must raise less than the threshold to avoid a referendum. The briefing paper provides guidance to any authority proposing an excessive increase in council tax and can be read here.

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