Views sought on Local Government Finance Bill

29/03/2012

Measures to encourage owners of long-term empty properties to bring them back into use will be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee as part of its consideration of the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Premises etc.) (Scotland) Bill.

The Committee would like to hear from individuals and organisations who would be affected by the Bill. The Bill seeks to give local authorities the power to increase council tax charges on certain long-term empty homes. The Bill also seeks to give the Scottish Ministers the power to alter the level of empty property relief for certain empty commercial properties under the non-domestic rates regime.

Committee Convener Joe Fitzpatrick MSP said:

“Bringing long-term empty homes and businesses back into use is an important issue.

“The committee would like to hear from those potentially affected by the Bill to inform the committee’s consideration of it and the approach it takes to bringing long-term empty homes and business back into use.”

The Bill also proposes the abolition of the Housing Support Grant, a Scottish Government subsidy available to local authorities that build up excessive levels of Housing Revenue Account debt.

Making submissions

Submissions should be received by Wednesday 9 May 2012.

Responses should be sent, where possible, electronically in MS Word format to: [email protected]

You may also make hard-copy written submissions to the following address: Local Government and Regeneration Committee, Room T3.60, Scottish Parliament, EH99 1SP. Responses should, if possible, be no more than six to eight sides of A4 in length.

Background

The Bill was introduced on 26 March 2012.

Homes are defined as long-term empty where they have been empty for six months or longer. Council tax data highlighted by the Scottish Government shows that the number of homes classed as long-term empty increased by 3% from 24,598 in September 2010 to 25,356 in September 2011.

The Housing Support Grant was established to provide local authorities who build up excessive levels of Housing Revenue Account debt to receive a Scottish Government subsidy as long as the debt remains disproportionate in relation to the level of rental income. Shetland Islands Council is the only council which currently receives Housing Support Grant.

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