Second Homes March

4,250+ elderly/disabled people in Cornwall could get daily care support if second homes tax loopholes are stopped

Posted on: 3rd December 2018

Housing campaigner Andrew George has revealed new figures which indicate that tax advantages worth nearly £100 million will be granted to second and holiday homes in Cornwall this year. Of that £12.7 million is paid by Cornwall(1) to compensate second homers who use a business rate loophole.

He further estimated that other tax loopholes/advantages available to the 8,350 holiday cottages which chose to pay business rates and many of the 15,588 second homes which pay council tax in the Duchy amounts to a further £84 million per annum (2).

“If this tax avoidance were converted to local authority support Cornwall Council would be able to extend its daily care packages to over 4 thousand elderly and disabled people enabling them to live independently at home (3). It represents nearly 18% of the Council’s net annual budget (4). If tax loopholes were closed it would cut average council tax bills for the rest of us by more than a third (Council Tax D cut from £1,468.50 to just £970 (5)).

“The drive for second homes is still growing with record sales again this year. This trend is to the detriment not only of the thousands of locals in housing need, but also to the disadvantage of local community services, legitimate holiday businesses and public services run by the council.

“Many second homes have switched from paying council tax to business rates since the council tax rebate was removed in 2012 and the business rate relief has been made more generous. I had drawn this loophole to the attention of Conservative ministers since this trend emerged in 2013, but was rebuffed.

“However, our campaign has progressed well. It has attracted the support of other parties. Even the conservatives recently admitted there is an unacceptable problem. This is welcome and I hope the Government will do something rather than just ‘review’ the problem.

“However, the Government will not be able to do anything effectively unless it introduces a legal register. Only the Liberal Democrats have established policy which would give communities the power to register and control numbers of second and holiday homes through planning law.

“That’s why I’m pleased to see Cornwall Council proposing to take further this important campaign. After all it is only through this important change in law that we can clamp down on the many lawful methods of tax avoidance.

“We must keep this campaign going. The only effective way of delivering change is to introduce a policy like that proposed by the Liberal Democrats. I understand that some Labour Councillors now support our policy. But their Party does not. I hope they’ll get their party to support us as they failed to when I took this to them when they were last in government.”