§ Mr. Pike
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Trans port and the Regions (1) what recent representations he has received on the policy of charging council tax on empty properties; 
(2) if he proposes to give local authorities discretion on levying council tax on empty properties where there is a large percentage of empty houses. 
§ Ms Beverley Hughes
In the last three months we have received four representations on the policy of charging council tax on empty properties.
There are already a range of exemptions from council tax where a dwelling is left empty. These include up to six months for dwellings which are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished and up to 12 months where they 9W also need major repair work to render them habitable or are undergoing structural alteration. Once an empty dwelling ceases to be exempt, it will attract a 50 per cent. charge.
We believe that the current exemptions are fair. However, we are aware of concerns at out council tax on empty homes in areas where demand for housing is very low and we will continue to keep the fairness of the council tax under review.