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Local Government Finance

Volume 171: debated on Tuesday 1 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the practice of local authorities charging a double standard community charge for owners of second homes; and whether he will consider extending transitional relief to these charge payers who would have been eligible had they been paying a personal community charge.

Charging authorities are required to set a multiplier for the standard charge of either 0, 0·5, 1, 1·5 or 2 times the personal community charge for the area. We have prescribed nine classes of property where no standard charge is payable and two classes of property where the multiplier may not exceed one times the personal charge. In addition local authorities have wide discretion to specify further classes of property in respect of which a different multiplier from the one generally applied may be set. Many authorities have made good use of this discretion. I am concerned, however, that other authorities have not and, if necessary, we will consider further central prescription for 1991–92. I do not think it necessary to extend transitional relief to standard charge properties. However, individuals who are subject to the standard charge may be eligible to receive transitional relief on their personal community charge by virtue of their sole or main residence.