Sedgemoor budget includes council tax shake-up
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Sedgemoor District Council voted to shake up its tax system when it set its budget for 2019/20.
The council will begin charging the owners of empty homes across the district 200 per cent council tax if it has been left unoccupied for two years or more, rising to 300 per cent for properties left empty for five years, and 400 per cent for homes left unused for 10 years or more.
The move is hoped to encourage the owners of empty properties to bring them back into use, as currently empty homes are exempt from paying council tax for the first three months.
At a meeting of the council on February 20, members also voted to increase council tax by £5, a 3.18 per cent rise, to £162.32 per year on a Band D property.
The increase includes £1.80 raised by the council on behalf of the Somerset Rivers Authority which enables it to implement and fund the 20-year flood action plan for the county.
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An additional £34.74 also goes to the Internal Drainage Boards to help with its work.
The council also voted to reduce rents by one per cent.
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Members also agreed to continue the council tax support scheme which gives financial support to residents on a low income to help pay their council tax.
Other measures agreed in the budget include £4.8million over six years for a digital transformation programme to allow people to access the council’s services online.
An additional £35,000 for Citizens Advice to help with the impact of Universal Credit after withdrawal of monies by Somerset County Council, plus a further £60,000 to support the council’s homelessness team was also agreed.
A £2million pot to build council houses, plus £1million for new housing projects in the district was also approved.
The council also announced it will retain a further estimated £1million from business rates.
This is on top of an estimated £1.4million the council will retain as a result of business growth across the district.
The rise in council tax mirrors other authorities around the region, with North Somerset Council passing a 2.75 per cent tax increase earlier in the month.
A reduction in Government funding and an increase in demand for adult social care is stretching financial budgets.