08 November 2016
Housing minister casts doubt over higher value levy date
The levy is meant to fund the building of homes to replace those sold through the extension of Right to Buy to housing association tenants. The Government was widely expected to implement the policy from April next year but detailed regulations required to implement the measure have not been published. A Department for Communities and Local Government civil servant also admitted last week that the Right to Buy extension has been delayed by the Brexit referendum vote.
Speaking at a Communities and Local Government committee session this afternoon, Mr Barwell said the government has not made any decisions about when councils will be expected to make the payment but details of the “controversial policy” would require “quite a notice period” before being introduced.
He said: “We haven’t taken a decision on timing yet but we have a statutory duty to consult councils before making any determination setting out the payment that would be required and the regulations require affirmative procedure in the House so there’s clearly quite a big process that we have to go through before we could start making charges.”
Mr Betts pressed the housing minister whether councils will be expected to find any of the high value asset levy in their budgets for 2017/18.
Mr Barwell said: “In terms of the process we have to go through, consulting and taking affirmative regulations through the House, you can see there would be quite a notice period before we could start making those charges.”
Clive Betts, chair of the CLG committee, said most councils are setting their budgets for next year and “haven’t got any idea what figure is going to be placed on them to estimate the high value assets”.
Sajid Javid, communities secretary, said the government is “clearly very much aware that councils will need to know what the burdens are on them and that is something we don’t want to surprise any councils with”.
He added: “We want to give them fair notice what that will be. And as we progress and have more details we will share them.”
Mr Betts asked if the payment would be required at the beginning of a financial year. Mr Barwell said the Government wanted to make sure it is a “smooth process”.
He added he is “very aware” the legislation that went through the House was “quite controversial” and it will require time to allow people to comment on the detail of the regulations when they are published and give councils “plenty of time” to implement the policy.
The Housing and Planning Act, which received Royal Assent in May, gives the secretary of state the power to levy a charge on councils, based on estimates of higher value vacant stock.