George pressing on with his policy to cap second homes: Supporting local campaign to protect communities and locals in housing need
West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, has pledged to press on with his campaign to cap second home numbers, in spite of the refusal of Labour and Conservative Parties to support the need to take action.
Mr George had proposed introducing clauses into his “Affordable Homes Bill” – to put a planning cap on second homes in places like West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. But following continued refusal of the Labour Party to back his plan he had no choice but to withdraw the second homes cap clause from his Bill. The Conservatives would not even consider Mr George’s proposal.
Mr George said, “My surveys of local estate agencies show that 4 times more local homes are sold to second home buyers as to first time buyers. Official statistics show that 2.3 million people in England and Wales have a second home, with Cornwall the most popular location. Some areas like St Ives have a quarter of its housing stock used as second homes. The scale of second home ownership has a detrimental effect on local communities, and fuel the price hike which pushes local first time buyers out of the local housing market.
“The Conservatives spent £thousands of millions each year on a Council Tax discount subsidising the wealthy to have their second homes when thousands of locals couldn’t afford their first. If you are wealthy and under occupy your second home, the Conservatives reward you. If you are poor and under occupy your council house, they penalise you.
“Many second home owners are now taking advantage of a loophole which allows them to register for business rates and then take advantage of the Small Business Rate Relief which means they pay either nothing or very little at all. They can also take advantage of marketing their cottages without charging VAT as they fall below that threshold – to the disadvantage of legitimate holiday businesses like larger guest houses and hotels.
“Something must be done to curb the detrimental impact of this trend. I have long argued for a planning regulation to cap the number of second homes but both Labour and Conservative continue to oppose. They opposed me when I set out to remove the Council Tax discount, but we won that one.
“I strongly support initiatives like that of the St Ives Neighbourhood Development Plan Group to introduce some measures to address this problem. We must keep the campaign going. We will get there in the end.”