Liberal Democrats must lead effort to control Second Homes

Posted on: 17th September 2018

Homes for locals campaigner, Andrew George – who successfully led the campaign to remove the Council Tax subsidy for second homes – will tell the Liberal Democrats Conference in Brighton that the Party must drive the campaign to clamp-down on the wide and much flaunted tax avoidance opportunities for second home owners.

He will move a motion on Monday at 9am which calls on the Conference to reinforce its longstanding policy to empower local communities to take effective action to combat growing second home ownership and to close widely a used tax-avoidance loop-holes.

He will tell Conference: “If the rich under-occupy their second home the Conservatives reward them – with massive tax avoidance loopholes.

But if the poor are deemed to under occupy their council home they penalise them with the ‘bedroom tax’!

Mr George exposed the shocking tax loop-hole which allows second homers to avoid paying any Council tax or business rates more than 6 years ago when he was MP for west Cornwall & Scilly. But his demands to close the abuse was rejected by Conservative Ministers.

Cornwall Council resolved earlier this year to demand that Government grants Cornwall powers to control the growth and taxation of second homes. Mr George welcomed this but said that the campaign must go even further. He said:

“It is of course very good to see the Council, including Cabinet members, making a cogent case for powers to control second homes and to make sure that they pay a fair share of taxes, something it is clear the majority of them don’t do at present.

“The Conservatives know full well there are transparent multi-million pound tax loop-holes which operate to the significant advantage of second home owners and to the detriment of local businesses, the taxpayer, local services and locals in housing need. The campaign is going well because even local Tory MPs have recently been shamed into finally accepting that the Council tax-loop-hole must be stopped. But we need to go further to achieve it…”

Figures provided to Mr George by Cornwall Council in response to questions he raised last July revealed that the council tax to small business tax relief ruse alone cost the public purse over £10 million each year. That’s without adding the many other lawful tax-dodging methods known to be used by second homers.