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Farron and SLDC councillors push minister on second homes

October 25, 2012 11:51 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron yesterday met with new Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Minister, Don Foster, as well as Clare Feeney-Johnson, Graham Vincent and Jonathan Brook from South Lakeland District Council.South Lakes MP Tim Farron yesterday met with new Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Minister, Don Foster, as well as councillors and officers from South Lakeland District Council to discuss the issue of loop holes in second home council tax rules.

At the meeting, Cllr Jonathan Brook explained to the Minister that despite the recent changes to council tax rules, whereby owners of second homes are no longer eligible for up to a 50% subsidy, there is still £2.7million pounds of council tax lost in the South Lakeland area due to a loophole in the system.

Thanks to a hard fought campaign by Tim and other Liberal Democrats in Government, it was announced last December that the discount of up to 50% councils were forced to offer second home owners would be abolished. However, there is still a way around paying council tax, which is by second-home owners falsely claiming the property is used as a 'holiday-let'.

At the meeting Tim, alongside Cllr Brook and Cllr Clare Feeney-Johnson, pressed the Minister to look into the situation, to which he assured them that the issue would receive his immediate attention.

Commenting after the meeting Tim said: "Last December we won a long and hard fought battle to end the unfair council tax subsidy for second home owners. If they can afford to have a second home, it is only right that they pay their fairshare just like everyone else.

"However, this loophole in the system means that too many people are still avoiding paying their council tax on their second homes, which means the likes of pensioners and those of lower incomes are being straddled with the burden."

Cllr Clare Feeney-Johnson added: "This was an excellent opportunity to discuss issues affecting South Lakeland; I found it was a positive meeting that will lead to us as an authority doing work subsequently but also will lead to real good news stories for the community."

Cllr Jonathan Brook further added: "We are keen to do our best for the residents of South Lakeland and there are several housing related issues where we are currently disadvantaged. We made our points and had a useful conversation with the Minister. The second homes issue was one of areas where we made progress."