Council Tax and Second Homes

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

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

No, not just Cornwall, but we work closely together as a team, fighting for Cornwall in all sorts of ways. I am proud to be in a county where the six MPs work so closely together on such important issues, helping us to maintain good local communities and a fair society.

I am also asking the Government to see what powers local authorities can be given to collect an additional council tax premium of up to an additional 100% from second homes that would be ring-fenced for investment in local housing stock. These powers are already available to authorities for empty homes and it may be sensible to extend them to second home owners given the pressures on authorities to provide housing for local families. If the money is collected from second home owners and used to build homes for local families, that would do a great deal to create harmony and unity in our communities.

I know from the second home owners who live near me—down the lane on which I live, three of the nine properties are owned by them—that they buy properties in Cornwall because they love the communities, want to contribute to those communities and want to be part of the life there while they are on a break. I know that they want good public services, so I do not believe for a minute that they would object to contributing more if the Government were to allow local authorities to do that in a sensible and proactive way.

Earlier this year, I met the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with the Council of the Isles of Scilly, where there is a real problem with second homes—195 properties in a community of just 2,200 people are locked up and often visited for only a few weeks a year. That has a depressing effect on the housing market, so when the council looks to create skilled jobs and attract nurses and people to work in schools and public services, housing is not available for them. The council has asked to be able to increase council tax on second homes by much more than 100% to free up the property market and start making houses available for the people who are needed to work on the islands.