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Council Tax

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st October 2011.

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Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West 2:30 pm, 31st October 2011

What the monetary value was of (a) council tax relief for second homeowners and (b) discounts on council tax for empty properties in England in the latest period for which figures are available.

Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The Department keeps no figures for Scotland, but for 2011-12 the estimated monetary value of council tax relief for second home owners in England is £45 million, and for discounts on council tax for long-term empty properties in England it is £70 million. The hon. Gentleman might wish to refer to the written ministerial statement on technical reforms to council tax that I have laid before the House today.

Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West

I thank the Minister for his response. What would he say to those who think his new policy, as in his statement, is a penalty surcharge? Does he agree that they are wrong and misguided?

Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I should point out to the Labour Whips that the hon. Gentleman’s question was not a planted question to coincide with today’s announcement. The Labour Government reduced the second homes discount to 10%. I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman welcomed what we are doing rather than condemn it. Perhaps he is of a mind that because the Tories are doing it, it must be wrong.

Photo of Stephen Gilbert Stephen Gilbert Liberal Democrat, St Austell and Newquay

Second home and holiday home ownership in some Cornish parishes is as much as 80% of the overall housing stock. As part of the Government’s localism agenda, will my right hon. Friend consider giving local authorities the power to limit the number of second and holiday homes in an area?

Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I think that would be rather difficult and open to abuse. This is an important step for my hon. Friend’s constituents and it should enable council tax bills to be cut by an average of about £20.