New Powers to Tackle the Blight of Empty Properties

Many towns and cities across the UK have properties that are sitting empty: second homes or vacant business buildings. However, they are all impacting those towns, cities and high streets in which these properties sit. Couple this with the need for additional housing and the regeneration of our high streets, the Government is now looking to implement a new bill to allow local authorities to tackle these issues.

It has recently been reported by the BBC that Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, is presenting a new bill to the Government that will seek to give local authorities the ability to bring local communities ‘back to life’.

Some of these new initiatives in the Levelling Up Bill are powers such as:

  • Councils in England will gain extra powers to force landlords of empty shops to rent out their premises
  • They will also get extra powers to make compulsory purchases designed to contribute towards regeneration
  • Neighbours will be allowed to hold “street votes” to approve or reject house extensions in their area

This bill will ultimately affect the owners of those empty properties, as local authorities will be able to double council tax on empty homes that are furnished but unoccupied, thus targeting the holiday/second-home market. Authorities will also be able to charge a higher rate of council tax if a property is empty and unfurnished after just one year, whereas currently legislation only enables this after two years.

Whilst this is a great initiative from the Government and can ultimately help get empty properties back into use and allow additional revenue growth, this bill potentially will not come into action until April 2024. So what can authorities do now?

Utilise Review Services Available

The simple answer is authorities can utilise review services right now such as our Empty Homes Review Service and our Business Rates Review Service.

Empty Homes Review

Our Empty Homes Review solution utilises specialist data matching technology and a network of experienced inspectors and revenue practitioners to carry out an exhaustive review and validation of vacant properties,  on a risk and reward basis. This fully managed service supports local authorities to bring empty homes back into use and attract lucrative New Homes Bonus funding – a rare win-win in this challenging economic landscape.

Councils have nothing to lose: with a long-term empty (LTE) property removal rate over three times the national average, Capacitygrid’s Empty Homes Review service helps to tackle the social and financial challenges of the UK housing crisis and helps local authorities maximise precious funding opportunities but allowing council staff to focus on the actual long term empty properties.

Business Rates Review

Our Business Rates Review (or RV Finder) service identifies additional items that are either unrated or under-rated and gathers the right evidence to successfully get the hereditament rated via the Valuation Office (VO). The new Electronic Billing Authority Reports (EBAR) process has placed a further burden on local authorities to comply with the new guidelines and our service is set up to support this exact process.

Through our RV Finder service, we review and identify hereditaments that are not currently rated or misclassified.

Contact us to find out more about how Capacitygrid can take charge of your Empty Homes Review and conduct a Business Rates Review to ultimately generate you additional income right now instead of having to wait until 2024.

See how Liberata can help your organisation.

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As a Council we are focused on ensuring that the services delivered are both sustainable and of the highest quality. We are delighted to be working with Liberata to help deliver these services on behalf of our residents and businesses. Liberata stood out with its ability to drive transformational change and improve customer access and digital services.
Richard Baker
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Following a formal process and tender notice, Liberata stood out with its ability to transform our services and improve customer access and digital services. Liberata has demonstrated it can achieve high collection rates across business rates and Council Tax services and benefits by improving processing times. We look forward to working with Liberata to help transform these services for our residents and ensuring we are providing the appropriate levels of support to the most vulnerable in our area.
A spokesperson for Swindon Borough Council
Swindon Borough Council
Eastleigh Borough Council has worked with Liberata for a number of years who undertake the council's empty home reviews, and I must say, their service exceeded all expectations. From start to finish, they demonstrated professionalism, efficiency, and a genuine commitment to addressing this critical issue in our community. Thanks to Liberata, the council has been able to maximise our empty home bonus year on year. This positive impact on our community cannot be overstated.
Kerrie Thomas
Eastleigh Borough Council
The RV Finder service from Liberata has really helped us ensure that our data is as accurate as possible and, when the VOA has processed the outstanding cases, I fully expect to see more than £1,000,000 of additional RV. The “risk and reward” model works well and the Council only has to pay for their success and the service is something that we will use on a regular basis.
Steve King
Leicester City Council
Liberata has been empowered to create a seamless integration with technology to digitally transform the Revenues and Benefits service whilst trying to protect local jobs. The joint strategy has helped to deliver innovative solutions that have exceeded expectations, whilst providing savings to the authority. This surge in digital engagement has helped deliver strong year one outturn with electronic billing and the technology will enable us to show improvements in the benefits speed of processing and in Council Tax processing of moves, discounts and exemptions.
Andy Stevens
Swindon Borough Council