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Cornwall Council plan to end property tax discount

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council

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Cornwall Council has proposed to end the council tax discount for second homes and for empty properties.

The proposals follow the Government giving powers to authorities to abolish generous tax breaks for holiday homes and owners of property standing idle.

Devon and Cornwall boast around 26,000 second homes and have among the highest levels of second-home ownership, which critics blame for pushing up house prices beyond the reach of local people.

Earlier this year, the Western Morning News revealed tax breaks on second homes and empty properties in the Westcountry cost the region £25 million annually.

There are estimated to be 26,000 second homes in Cornwall and Devon, and critics blame the high proportion of holiday homes for pricing local people out of the market and putting schools, shops and pubs at risk.

The discount ranges from 10% to 50%, depending on the council. Cornwall Council's is 10%. MPs say any extra cash will not solve the housing crisis in the region, but the money can be used to underwrite affordable community housing and shore-up services.

Councillor Jeremy Rowe, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cornwall Council, said: "The second home council tax discount is an anathema which harms local services.

"I'm delighted that the Lib Dems in government have made the change that allows councils to charge full council tax on second homes and equally delighted that Cornwall is proposing to implement the change at the first opportunity."

Government figures show the estimated cost of the second-home discount is £2.2 million in Devon and £2.1 million in Cornwall. It costs a further £1 million in parts of Somerset and Dorset.

On top of that, the relief afforded to empty properties in the Westcountry stands at almost £20 million.

Mr Rowe added: "The authority is also proposing that empty homes will be exempt from council tax only for the first month.

"This change is aimed at encouraging owners not to leave homes empty when there are more than 25,000 families on the housing waiting list.

"Indeed, the council is going further and proposing a penalty premium of an extra 50% on empty properties left vacant for more than two years.

"The council has a number of grant programmes in place to help the owners of empty properties bring them back into use, so there should be no excuse.

"In addition a loophole that allowed homeowners to escape council tax if they could show that a house was undergoing major repairs is being closed and these will only get a 50% discount for a single year and then have to pay full council tax thereafter."

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  • cornishexile  |  November 20 2012, 9:38PM

    The annual tax should be a % of the value, maybe 5%?

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  • cornishexile  |  November 20 2012, 8:54PM

    Removing the council tax reduction simply isn't enough. The destruction of the county's communities warrants an annual tax based on the property's value. Only then can the destruction be reversed

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  November 20 2012, 10:58AM

    And are therefore an example of properties built specifically as holiday accommodation and had this restriction place on them by planners, which merely confirms the point (that's what eg is for, it saves having to list every possible example). They are not existing family homes that have been swallowed up by this disease. Even these should be holiday lets rather than second homes to maximise the economic benefit, but at least they reduce the impact.

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  • Fistral20  |  November 20 2012, 8:10AM

    Jungle Jim - you're wrong on holiday restrictions, as they also apply to flats and apartments built on sites formally occupied by hotels. Where such a restriction is in place, the property can only be occupied for a maximum of 6 weeks at any one time, and the person staying there cannot register at local GP's, schools etc.

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  November 19 2012, 6:24PM

    Sorry, crgee Musr slow down a bit

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  November 19 2012, 6:21PM

    cdge "I can see where the problem lies" - you've missed the point of the item BTW, all properties that have become second or holiday homes do NOT have a restriction on when they can be used. Only properties built specifically as holiday properties (eg chalets & some mobile home) have such a (planning) restriction.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  November 19 2012, 6:13PM

    if second home owners are paying 90% c tax and are only using the services for 15 % of the year this is already a huge earner for the resident population and the council. I would like to thank the second home owners for thier patronage.

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  • crgee  |  November 19 2012, 3:30PM

    26,000 homes where a 10% tax discount is given... more than 50,000 homes where NO council tax at all is received because of ''benefits'' claimants..(30,000 under 25's on housing benefit and 122,000 on 'out-of-work' benefit)...yes I can see where the problem lies..and of course many of the 'holiday homes' do not allow 12 months residency so would be of no value to locals.

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  • beachhut45  |  November 19 2012, 2:42PM

    You're absolutely right KJHXXX, any attempt to restrict second home ownership will cause more problems than it solves and is tackling the problem the wrong way. I expect the majority of additional homes are owned by families rather than individuals. How would you propose stopping them transferring homes into individual names with no individual owning more than one and each claiming their property to be their principal residence? Does anyone also really believe that any additional Council Tax raised will be applied solely and directly in providing affordable housing? Dream on.

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  • Countrylover  |  November 19 2012, 1:39PM

    This should have been done long ago as its been know for many years. If they actually quadrupled council tax then this would at least surely make many want to sell. We do not need to keep building homes that remain empty 11 months of the year as many bring food,drink etc from where they live, this does not benefit where they are on holiday. NDC/Ilfracombe have planned 750 homes,school, small businesses but further away than the "out of town supermarket [Hirst plans 500 ECO ones, though a recent report says eco are in fact expensive to run. Not in keeping with the area as usually weird shapes.Isnt his aobscene statue bad enough] They wont be affordable to local people, only to second home owners or for "buy to let" landlords. Ilfracombe itself has derelict hotels,empty houses, street has many empty businesses and boarded up tracts of land. Surely some of these could be refurbished into council fllats, rented out but not sold. Same with the "offices" the council wants to sell. They surely should know properties are not selling at the moment. To many there are great advantages to much higher cost to owners of holiday homes, they then have the choice live here or sell. If they can afford a 2nd home they should pay much higher council tax.

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