MP presses Prime Minister on second homes tax to save GP surgeries
South Lakes MP Tim Farron asked the Prime Minister to back his idea of a special rural fund to be created to protect rural services. The money would come from a 10% tax on second home owners.
At Prime Minister's Questions Tim asked David Cameron: "Given that excessive second home ownership in my constituency is making rural services including GPs unsustainable will he agree with my proposal to charge 10% extra council tax on second homes to put into a ring fenced fund for rural GP surgeries?"
If South Lakeland District Council had power to charge an extra 10 per cent to the estimated 5,000 second home owners in the district, it would generate around £1.25m a year.
Tim thinks this funding could be used to protect rural bus routes, improve local roads, protect post offices and pubs. Tim came up with the idea as another way to protect rural GP practices from changes in the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG).
The Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) is being ditched in a move that local politicians and campaigners have claimed is further undermining key services in countryside communities. Recently the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and South Lakeland District Council both agreed to lobby for the MPIG changes to be looked at again. Some practices now face a 35% cut in funding.
Speaking after Prime Minister's Questions Tim said: "This fund could protect rural services and give them a sustainable funding stream. For me, this is not about penalising second home owners, it's about asking them to pay their fair share. They use the GP practice, the bus service and the post office and like local people they should support it. Rural services cost more to sustain but I believe that we should all pitch in to pay for them.
"People come to our beautiful Lakeland villages because they have services like a pub or a school and they see a vibrant working community with picturesque views. This fund, if adopted, will support these services for many years to come."