BCBC have recently passed a budget that will see cuts across their services, this has been blamed on falling revenue income. BCBC have stated that they have to respond to cuts being imposed on them and that they are having to raise Council tax by 2.9% to all residents in order to meet this budget.
If only there was another way that they could raise more revenue in order to protect the services we rely on. Well, you will be pleased to know that they can. You will be angry to know that they have chosen not to.
Under the Housing Act (2014) from 1st April 2017 BCBC have the ability to impose a premium of up to 100% on top of Council Tax for properties that have been empty for over two years. This is a discretionary power for the Local Authorities in Wales.
BCBC have looked into this opportunity and decided against implementation of this power, stating that it may be too difficult to chase bad debts.
There are currently 397 properties in Bridgend County that fit into these criteria of being empty for more than 24 months. Meaning that if BCBC implemented the powers given to them to put a premium of 100% on top of the Council tax bill they would raise circa £530,000 in additional revenue. To give you guidance, the education budget has been cut by around £800,000 meaning the loss of jobs and undermining future generation’s educational needs.
We are appalled by the decision not to take the powers given to BCBC to address this matter as we feel this act would have one of two outcomes. Either
1. The property remains empty and BCBC generate much needed addition revenue, or
2. The Landlord brings the property back into a useable manner, BCBC receive additional funds due to the property becoming occupied and we go some way to addressing the housing shortage in the County
Empty properties are a blight on our neighbourhood and a disgraceful missed opportunity when we have a housing shortage of around 1,000, with people being told that they will be on housing waiting lists for years. We must address these issues and BCBC has been given the powers to do this yet they have refused to do so.
Change For Bridgend candidates will canvass your opinion on this however, It is our belief that this new power should be implemented as soon as possible.
If elected in May we would seek to make it BCBC policy to use them.