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

As the rules stand, if a property is advertised for let for a certain number of weeks a year, it can be registered as a business and exempted from council tax and business rates. It is not necessarily required for people to be in the building during that time, as long as it is advertised as available for let. My hon. Friend is right, but I do not want to complicate the issue further. Simply saying that council tax is applicable to every house built for residential purposes would reduce many of the headaches that people might have at the moment.

The other additional benefit of applying council tax to every property is that communities like Steve and Mousehole. [Laughter.] I say “Steve” because of your point earlier. Sorry, not your point, Mr Speaker—although it was a good point you made—but the point made by my hon. Friend Steve Double.

The other additional benefit of applying council tax to every property is that communities like St Ives and Mousehole, which have a large number of holiday lets, could benefit from simplified and inclusive waste collection. Currently, because of the concern that the users of second homes in places like St Ives are abusing the system and using the bins provided for genuine local residents who pay council tax, Cornwall Council has removed some of the bins and is refusing to collect some of the rubbish.

Recycling, refuse and how we look after waste is a big issue in St Ives, and I have a big meeting on Friday to identify the issues. The local community will put forward a plan and I will work with Cornwall Council to deliver it. I have been working on the situation for three years, and bins that were available for residents who pay council tax have been taken away because it was deemed that they were being abused by people who own holiday lets and local restaurateurs, which has caused real hardship for elderly people. In parts of St Ives, and in other parts of my constituency where holiday lets are numerous, the people who are left are often older people who are less mobile, and they are having real difficulties in getting rid of their rubbish.