Council Tax proposals could damage house building, warns FMB

Brian Berry
Brian Berry
Brian Berry
Brian Berry

Charging Council Tax on unbuilt developments could decrease house building numbers by deterring SME house builders, warns the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to proposals made by the Local Government Association recently.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The imposition of Council Tax on unbuilt homes could deliver the opposite of what it hopes to achieve by reducing the number of smaller housing developments.

“SMEs already face serious challenges in terms of access to finance and scarcity of small sites. For small house builders to be liable for Council Tax on properties which can’t be built would add yet another layer of risk and act as a further deterrent to smaller developers.

“It is already commonplace for local authorities to start charging council tax on homes that are incomplete – sometimes before even the basics, such as plastering, have been finished. It seems there’s now a danger of Council Tax being charged if you do build and also charged if you can’t build. That can’t be right.”

Berry concluded: “The government has recognised that empowering SMEs by releasing smaller parcels of land could hold the key to increasing the number of homes being built – along with some local authorities which are enabling more small sites to be brought forward. If all councils were similarly bold, they would stand to benefit from faster rates of house building completion, thereby achieving their targets while also stimulating the local economy. There’s a huge convergence of interest between local authorities and SME developers, and we hope that we can work together in the future on realising what is ultimately the same end goal – to get more homes built.”