George challenges Labour and Conservatives on second homes policy

Posted on: 15th September 2014

West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, has repeated his call for Government to address the tax loophole for second home owners and has challenged the Conservative and Labour objections to a legal requirement to register second homes for tax and planning purposes.

Mr George said, “Local estate agencies often show that 4 times more local homes are sold to second home buyers as to first time buyers. I have long argued for a planning regulation to cap the number of second homes but both Labour and Conservative Ministers have thwarted my efforts….so far.

“Many more people are now cottoning on to the massive tax loopholes I had been warning about as a new MP in 1997; which encourage the trade in our homes to second home buyers. I had been a sole voice complaining that the previous Conservative Government had left us with a system which meant that hundreds of £millions of taxpayers’ money was being spent subsidising the wealthy second homers through a Council Tax rebate when there were thousands of local families who couldn’t afford their first home.

“And they could rake in money from letting them to the holiday trade for up to 120 nights a year! Or they could get their tax lawyers onto it and switch to Business Rates for tax deduction purposes. In recent years there’s been an added loophole of small business rate relief which entitles many to pay nothing.

“And it gets worse, especially for legitimate holiday accommodation businesses. Hard working and taxpaying hotel proprietors who compete in the same trade for visitors’ accommodation do so with both hands tied behind their backs, as they are obliged to charge 20% VAT whilst their second home owning competitors don’t.

“I’ve been leading the charge in Parliament against the (Conservative side of the) Government’s despised “Bedroom Tax”, where poor families are effectively penalised if they “under-occupy” their modest Council House.

“So, as the poor are penalised by the Conservatives if they under occupy their only home the wealthy are rewarded by them if they under occupy their desirable second home.

“It was about 30 years ago that I was urging political leaders to take action to counter the growth of second home ownership and the detrimental impact it was having on our local communities. I had proposed a new planning law which would give local communities the chance to put a cap on numbers.

“Last month I had the opportunity to walk around some of the areas I frequented during my upbringing here in West Cornwall – the number and extent of second and holiday homes was shocking. Places which used to be a neighbourhood of local families had been hollowed out, gentrified and made alien.

“This cannot and should not go on. This is not the politics of envy, but a simple case of achieving basic justice and fair treatment for all.”