Council Tax and Second Homes

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 26th June 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 6:45 pm, 26th June 2018

I am quite impressed by that intervention. It was quite a thing to hear, and I am sure that it will go on public record and that people will refer to it in future.

I have raised this issue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer since I was elected in 2015. I have raised it with three separate Secretaries to the Treasury, and I raised it once again just a couple of weeks ago in a debate in Parliament. I have a simple ask: that every property that has been built as a home should pay council tax. I argue that the Government should close this loophole, allowing the authority to collect the council tax charge to provide public service and enabling the Government to divert cash towards the provision of homes for local families.

I remember—I was a counsellor and a parliamentary candidate in St Ives at the time—when business rate relief was introduced. It was clearly done to support our high streets and, for many, it has had a significant benefit. However, I do not believe for a minute that that relief was ever intended to create a route to enable a homeowner to avoid paying council tax, or business rates when a property is used as a business. Do not get me wrong: I am well aware of the contribution that tourism makes to the economy of Cornwall and Scilly—to the local economy, through the jobs it provides and through all the contributions that allow our high streets to have a fighting chance of survival—and I recognise the role that holiday lets play in supporting the sector. I am not seeking to oppress the tourism sector but to install some fairness in the housing system and identify some much-needed cash that can be used to provide the homes that my constituents and constituents across Cornwall need.