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Local councils can make decisions about the amount of discount awarded or premiums charged locally for certain types of property. Councils also have powers to create their own discounts and exemptions.

From 1 April 2023 all councils in Somerset (Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, South Somerset District Council and Somerset County Council) will merge to form a single new Unitary Authority called Somerset Council.

Somerset County Council, under powers granted by The Somerset (Structural Changes) Order 2022 and as the ‘Continuing Authority’, made decisions at its meeting on 23 November 2022 about Council Tax discounts and premiums for the new Somerset Council. These are detailed below.

The discounts and premiums below will apply from 1 April 2023

Empty properties

Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties will count as empty for Council Tax purposes.

No discount will apply for these types of properties.

Properties under Structural Repair or in Need of Major Repair

This includes properties that are unoccupied, substantially unfurnished and requiring or undergoing structural alterations or major repair.

No discount will apply for these types of properties.

Long Term Empty and Substantially Unfurnished Dwellings

Properties are classed as being ‘long term empty’ where they have been continuously empty for a period of more than 2 years and the following premiums will apply:

  • A 100% Premium, where the property has been empty for more than two years (2x charge)
  • A 200% Premium, where the property has been empty for between five and ten years (3x charge)
  • A 300% Premium, where the property has been empty for more than 10 years (4x charge)

From 1 April 2024 a 100% premium (2 x charge) will then become payable once a property has been continuously empty for more than one year.

Care Leavers

The council has created a 100% discount for care leavers, where:

  • they are liable for Council Tax as an occupier in the property for which they are claiming the discount whether or not they live alone;
  • they are below the age of 25; and
  • they are a registered care leaver with Somerset Council or any other relevant local authority within the United Kingdom (and subject to the provision of proof of registration, where required).

Foster Carers

The council has created a 50% discount for foster carers or qualifying special guardians where they:

  • are fully approved as a foster carer by the new Council and meet the care skills standard;
  • have provided foster care to a child for a total of 26 weeks (182 days) in the previous 12 months from 1 February to 1 January;
  • maintain their approval as a foster carer with the Council;
  • maintain their availability to foster;
  • live within the Somerset area;
  • claim all relevant benefits and discounts to which they would usually be entitled;
  • claim this discount only on the one dwelling which is their main residence; and
  • agree to receiving this Council Tax discount.

You do not need to apply for this discount. The Foster Care and Kinship teams will identify where you qualify for the discount and will contact you.

Subject to the provisions contained within the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill receiving royal assent, the following changes will apply from 1 April 2024.

Second Homes Premiums

Second homes for Council Tax purposes are dwellings that are furnished but unoccupied – they are no one’s ‘sole or main residence’. This includes furnished unoccupied properties which may be subject to a planning restriction on occupation.

A 100% premium (2 x charge) will apply for these types of properties from 1 April 2024.

Full details of the Council Report and decisions

The Council has also agreed a new Council Tax Reduction (support) scheme from 1 April 2023 onwards. Details of this scheme can be found here.

Other statutory discounts and exemptions will continue to apply in respect of Council Tax and cover a variety of different circumstances, as detailed below.

See the Council Tax Exemptions at 100% table at full width
See the Council Tax Exemptions at 50% / 25% table at full width

Last reviewed: July 26, 2023 by Gemma

Next review due: January 26, 2024

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