Magazine article Public Finance

Camden Views Doubling Council Tax as an Ideal Homes Solution

Magazine article Public Finance

Camden Views Doubling Council Tax as an Ideal Homes Solution

Article excerpt

A London borough wants to use council tax to stop international investors from speculatively buying homes and then leaving them empty, but housing experts have queried how the scheme might work.

Camden has called on the government to allow double council tax to be charged on unoccupied homes after successfully using existing powers under the 2012 Local Government Finance Act that allows 50% tax to be charged on homes left empty for more than two years.

Now the borough wants this rate raised to 100%, applied after one year and extended to cover residences claimed by international investors as second homes.

Commenting on the proposal, former Housing Corporation chief executive Steve Douglas, now a partner at housing consultancy Altair, told Fhblic Finance: 'Camden has done well so far, but the challenge would be how to define an [absentee] overseas buyer and tax them.'

Alistair McIntosh, chief executive of the Housing Quality Network consultancy, said anythingthat brought empty property into use was 'laudable'. But he added: 'I'm not sure how they would frame something around foreign investors.'

A Camden spokeswoman admitted to PF that the council had not worked out how a law might be framed to catch such people without penalising those who genuinely live in the borough for part of the year.

We've asked for the power. If we got it, we would need to go into the fine detail,' she said.

Camden's call came in a tetter to Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Rckles from Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance. …

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