FMB warns of council tax misuse on SME builders

2. Brian Berry
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned that Government must prevent local authorities from hindering SME developers with unfair council tax burdens.

The FMB says that reports from its members suggest it has become relatively commonplace for new homes to be deemed complete for the purposes of council tax long before they are actually inhabitable.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “If the Government is serious about solving the housing crisis, it must address the issue of unfair Council Tax charges on house-builders. Today we are calling on the Government to halt the poor practice of local authorities charging Council Tax on incomplete new homes.”

In light of the recent pledge to tackle the housing crisis through building 400,000 new homes by the end of the decade – with some to be directly commissioned – central Government needs to crack down on local authorities and establish more specific laws around when a property is deemed ‘complete’.

Mr Berry continued: “What is urgently needed is an agreed definition of when a new home is complete for the purposes of charging Council Tax, and one which ties this point much more closely to the point of inhabitability. This will help ensure against current poor practice in some areas and will also serve to speed up the delivery of new homes.

For this reason, we’re also urging Government to review whether the removal of the automatic six month exemption for ‘unoccupied and substantially unfurnished’ dwellings should have been applied to new dwellings, as we fear this is having the unintended effect of further slowing down house-building.”

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