Cornish second home owners to pay double council tax in new proposal to raise funds from outsiders

Cornish second home owners will pay double council tax after a proposal that the local authority would give powers to collect more money from outsiders.

Currently, there is a loophole that allows some second home owners to claim a reduction in business rates and avoid paying council taxes altogether.

But the new offer would also see councils able to charge a 100 percent council tax premium to residents who leave their properties vacant for a year or more.

It is estimated that there are over 13,000 properties in Cornwall classified as second homes in the council tax system, one of the highest levels in the country.

But both proposals were accepted in principle by Cornwall council’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday and they are now urging the council leader to write to the secretary of state calling for all English local authorities to be given the ability to raise council tax on second homes even three times the normal rate.

The move followed a request by Julian German, an independent councilor and former Cornish council leader, who wants to align England with Wales.

The Welsh government introduced legislation this year allowing local authorities to set council tax premiums of up to 300 per cent on second homes and long-vacant properties.

Last week it was announced that the county of Gwynedd, an area of ​​Wales widely known for its high number of tourists, was to see a significant increase in council tax bills for non-permanent residents.

Property owners have been told they face paying 250 percent of their council tax bill as the local council presents a 150 percent increase on top of their full council tax in a crackdown on second homes in one of the most picturesque areas of Great Britain.

The change could introduce Gwynedd as one of the first counties in Wales to make use of the new municipal tax authorities.

German told The Times: ‘If the Westminster government wants to delegate the ability to councils to raise council taxes on second homes, why cap it at 100 per cent? Why not trust the local government to decide what is best for them, either 150 percent or 400 percent?’

The new proposals are subject to the government’s Leveling and Regeneration Bill receiving Royal Assent.

The bill gives local authorities powers to double the council tax on second homes and is expected to become law in time for implementation from April 2024.

Under additional changes that will aim to close a loophole that has allowed some second-home owners to avoid paying taxes, which take effect in April 2023, second-home owners will be required to provide good proof that their property is rented to tourists. to qualify for the business. rates

However, if a property owner can show that their property has been let for at least 70 days a year and has an assessable value of less than £12,000, they may still qualify for business rate reduction and avoid paying council tax.

When the bill is approved, many municipalities are expected to take advantage of the new tax opportunity.

North Yorkshire County Council, for example, which has the highest concentration of second homes in England, last month became the first English council to pass a measure pledging to double council tax bills on second homes.

Currently Cornwall can double council tax only on houses that have been vacant for two years or more.

It charges a 200 percent tax on homes vacant for more than five years and 300 percent on those vacant for more than ten years.

A report to the committee estimated that doubling council tax rates on all second homes could generate an additional £27m in revenue for the authority.

According to the report, there are more than 13,000 properties in Cornwall classified as second homes in the council tax system, one of the highest levels in the country.

“Second home ownership in Cornwall is important and is recognized as having a negative impact in terms of the supply of available housing to meet local housing needs,” the report says.

According to the report, 722 properties are charged a 100% premium for being vacant for more than two years, generating £854,000.

Statistics reveal that although Cornwall has just one per cent of England’s population, as of last year it had 17 per cent of the country’s second homes.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay owns three Cornish properties, though he is not believed to rent them out, including a £6m mansion in the seaside village of Rock.

Locals have asked questions about affordability in recent years. House prices in Cornwall are some of the highest in the country, which has angered locals who say they cannot afford a house there. The Megavissey complex boasts typical property prices of £300,000, 20 times the average local salary.

A host of famous faces also own homes in the county, although they are not believed to rent out their properties: Dame Judi Dench owns a house near St Ives, while celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay owns three properties, including a mansion of £6 million in fishing. rock town.

Television presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan have owned Steward House in Talland Bay, near Polperro, since 1998.

Rebecca Hemingway of the Fowey Folk Museum said: “There’s no one with a sea view that’s a local, maybe one.”

‘It’s too late to do anything about the second home situation; it would be good for the community if there were more affordable homes.

There are a handful at the top, but not enough.

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