While welcoming the ability of Cornwall Council to add extra Council tax on to owners of empty homes, a community-led local housing project has fallen foul of the current Empty Homes Council Tax policy.
St Ives Community Land Trust is developing a town centre building to provide 6 affordable flats for rent by local people. The project has been charged up to 300% Council tax, because it falls within the scope of Cornwall Council’s powers to impose extra tax on empty homes, resulting in excess of £20,000 going to Cornwall Council from the project funds.
The group is now calling on Cornwall Council to bring in an exemption so that its community-led project can go ahead and that other similar projects in the future do not face the same problem.
“We have been asking for a change in policy for some 18 months now and it has come to a crucial point in our project where Cornwall Council has taken our funds which were to be used for the project and have not seen fit to bring in a change of rules so affordable community-led schemes such as ours can be exempt from extra council tax on empty homes awaiting development,” says St Ives CLT Secretary Jill Block, “ we have written to all Cornwall Councillors asking for their support.
“We were due to meet with the Housing Portfolio Holder, but he is now unable to attend our meeting, so are now calling on all the Council’s Cabinet members in a letter to them, to put this item on the Agenda of their next Cabinet meeting on 22nd September. We have extended a further invitation to Cllr Monk to meet us and we hope this matter can be resolved in the near future.
“It surely cannot be the intention of Cornwall Council to, as it were, score an own goal with this policy which penalises affordable housing projects developed by groups representing local people.”