Please talk to me Labour, if you want second homes clamp-down to work – George
Welcoming the Labour Party’s apparent new-found support for measures to clamp down on second homes, leading campaigner for the Liberal Democrats, Andrew George, said he’d be pleased to speak to them to help turn their aspirations into effective policy.
Mr George, who successfully led the campaign to remove the 50% Council Tax discount for second homes twenty years ago, says Labour’s intentions seem honourable but their policy misses the point.
He said, “They have confused holiday homes with all conversions of permanent local homes to non-permanent occupancy uses. They say they only want to hit ‘holiday’ homes. But all of those who’s tax advisers have encouraged them to switch from Council Tax to business rates will find another creative ruse to avoid Labour’s proposed punitive tax.
“The only way to make this work is to define all “non-permanent” use of local homes (whether holiday homes let to holiday makers or second homes used primarily for the occasional recreational use of the owners and their family/friends). But they say they only want to apply their tax to ‘Holiday’ uses. This would fail and could potentially bring them into conflict with genuine holiday businesses which play by the rules, including those who operate purpose-built holiday chalets and homes. They’re a completely different category and should not be confused with the pattern of second home investment which is proving to be most damaging in places like Cornwall & Scilly.
“When Labour were in Government I went to them with very specific and worked-up policy proposals to introduce a new law which would allow the Government to properly regulate second and holiday homes – through a new definition in planning law. But this was rejected by them at the time. That’s why we still experience this unacceptable climate where wealthy people can use valuable Cornish homes as a quids’ in money making venture which can be milked through lawful tax-dodging schemes on an industrial scale.
“It’s clear Labour now wants to follow what I’ve been campaigning for but they clearly don’t understand how to go about it. I’d be pleased to advise. The door’s open.”