Second homes “crack-down” is just more empty spin.

Posted on: 9th May 2022

The Conservatives claim they’ll “crack-down” on second homers and “punish” them with double council tax. However, I regret that all they will do is the opposite. As more second homers will be encouraged to ‘flip’ their property investment from council tax to business rates, claim the tax exemption and pay nothing. All they’re proposing is merely to bring forward by one year the existing doubling of council tax on EMPTY homes; which is a different (and complex) matter than second/holiday/Airbnb homes.

More than half of Cornwall’s second homes don’t just NOT pay any Council tax anyway, but they don’t pay ANYTHING. And the Conservatives won’t really do anything to discourage that! It costs the rest of us £15 million a year in Cornwall to subsidise second home owners who use the business rate relief loophole to avoid paying anything. Then they received another £170 million+ of Cornwall’s covid aid. It’s hard to think of a less deserving case for this taxpayer funded charity! I warned the Tories at the beginning of the pandemic. But they ignored it and just carried on paying out. In short; it’s a scandal followed by a con.

 Their proposals will neither hasten nor discourage the present industrial-level exploitation of the massive rewards and tax advantages available to second home property investors. Benefits gained by them but to the detriment of the communities they colonise and the locals who are ejected to make way.
 
They’ve spent decades denying there’s a problem and rejecting proposals to introduce new (planning use class) laws to control the problem and promote housing justice. However, the Conservatives were finally shamed into admitting that their laws which allow wealthy second homers to use tax-loopholes to avoid paying either council tax or business rates were unfair. But that was in 2018. And while they’ve repeatedly made extravagant statements that they’ll close the loophole, nothing has actually happened. Except that they’ve doled-out multi-million covid aid to them (over £170 million of Cornwall’s Covid-aid alone). And what they do propose will have virtually no impact anyway.
 
This latest announcement amounts to more of the same. Regulations to double council tax on empty properties already exist and will be devilishly difficult to apply to second homes. There’s nothing behind the spin. Just words which they hope will help detoxify the Tory brand.
 
If the £billions which second homers have taken advantage of were instead being paid out to poor benefit recipients or asylum seekers the Tories would have clamped down on it long ago.
 
The Conservatives’ policies betray their values. If you’re wealthy and you have an underused second home the Conservatives reward you with £billions in tax advantages (and covid aid). But if you’re poor and the Conservatives deem that you under-utilise your Council house, they’ll penalise you with the bedroom tax.