08 September 2023 5min read

Sefton Council wants people to have their say on proposals that would allow it to change some rules affecting properties that are empty or unused and some people who receive Council Tax reduction.

Empty and unused homes

The Government is bringing in new rules that would enable Sefton Council to make an extra Council Tax charge for properties that no one has lived in for one year and properties that are furnished but only lived in sometimes.

Under the rules, councils would be able to make a100% premium Council Tax charge on top of the normal charge for Council Tax on properties that have been left empty for a year.

Councils would also be able to add a 100% premium charge for Council Tax for properties that are only lived in sometimes.

Rule changes for empty properties would be introduced from April 2024 and those for properties that are only lived in sometimes will happen a year later, in April 2025.

The consultation, for people in Sefton to share their views on the Government’s proposals, is open from Monday 11th September 2023 to Friday 13th October.

They can do this online at via  the Council’s YourSeftonYourSay website at Or they can download the form and send it back to the Council by post to Council Tax Survey, PO Box 2, Bootle, L20 3US. People can also email

Completed versions of the downloaded form can also behanded in at the One Stop Shops in Bootle and Southport.

Anyone who need help to complete the survey, can call the Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.

The results of this consultation will be reported to the Council Members at a cabinet meeting in January 2024.

At the moment, Sefton Council charges an extra 100% Council Tax if a property has been left empty and unfurnished for two years. This would change to one year from the April 2024 under the new rules.

From April 2025 the Council also plans to start charging an extra100% for properties that are empty but furnished after one year.

Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council's Cabinet Member for Regulatory Compliance and Corporate Services said:

“At a time when we need to increase the number of affordable homes in Seton available for people to rent or buy, there are approaching 2,000 homes in the Borough that are not being used.

“By introducing these premium Council Tax charges, Sefton Council wants to encourage their owners to bring them back into use, while at the same time generating increased Council Tax revenues to pay for vital services.”

There are almost 1,400 homes in Sefton that have been empty and unfurnished for a year or more and over 500 that are furnished but are not lived in.

These figures do not include properties exempt from paying Council Tax, for reasons such as the owner is being cared for somewhere else or is providing care elsewhere or they are in the armed forces.

Sefton Council always tries to work with owners to bring properties back into use. Owners of long-term empty properties can also seek advice for dealing with them from the Councils Housing Standards Team by e-mailing

Council Tax Reduction

Through Sefton’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme, some people’s Council Tax bills are reduced. There are a wide range of reasons for this include being on a low income, living with ill health or having a disability or being a carer. 

Older people living on a pension, people who are working but on low pay, job-seekers and people on a wide range of benefits, including Universal Credit, can also qualify for Council Tax Reduction.

The Council wants to make the process of working out Council Tax Reduction for people in Sefton of working age receiving Universal Credit and in employment simpler. This would make it easier for households to know how much they need to pay. It plans to do this by ignoring small changes in people’s circumstances that can have a minor effect on people’s Council Tax Reduction.

The small changes that could be ignored are occasions where someone has worked a few extra hours in one month or has received a back-dated pay rise. The Department of Work and Pensions informs the Council of these changes but after they have been calculated they often make very little difference.

Working out these changes, can cost the Council more to work out than the amount it saves in a cut to the person’s Council Tax reduction.

These proposed changes will only affect people of working age in receipt of Universal Credit and working.

Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council's Cabinet Member for Regulatory Compliance and Corporate Services said:

“These proposed changes to our Council Tax Reduction Scheme would have the three-fold benefits of making it easier for those households affected to pay their bills, reducing confusion for customers and saving the Council money.

“But we want to find out if people agree with these aims so are carrying out a consultation to get their views.”

The consultation is open from Monday 11th September to Friday 13th October. People can have their say by visiting

Or they can download a copy of the survey to complete and emailing it to or posting it to Council Tax Reduction Survey, PO Box 2, Bootle L20 3US.

Anyone needing help to complete the survey can call the Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.

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