I THOUGHT through the Express that I may regale readers with one of those quaint ironies about living in the 21st century.
My father, being in his mid-80s, decided to leave his home in Ackworth – which he had lived in for 55 years – and move out of the county to sheltered housing, to be closer to me, his only surviving family. Having put his house on the market and informed all the necessary authorities, we were surprised at the amount of the bill for council tax from Wakefield Council. Thinking it was an administrative error we were informed that, following a change in policy by the council on 1 April, it costs more to own an empty house than to actually live in it. Previously an empty property within the council area attracted a 50 per cent reduction.
As a single occupant of his house my father previously qualified for a 25 per cent single person supplement. We now find that the change in policy – which fits with the Local Government Finance Act 1992 – does not qualify you for any supplement and the full amount is due. My father is now faced with a bigger council tax bill for not actually living in the property. My understanding is that council tax is levied to pay for services but clearly an empty property is a bigger drain on those services!
We recognise the funding problems of all local authorities and the council admits the policy change is to make up deficit from cuts to its government grant. I like to think that I am open to a logical argument but I am going to be dependent upon your readers to explain this to me as the council can only tell me that it has fallen into line with other local authorities which do this.
So does that makes sense then?