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MP secures meeting with Treasury minister over second homes crisis

February 2, 2022 11:20 AM

On the floor of the House of Commons yesterday, South Lakes MP Tim Farron secured a meeting with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury about increasing council tax on second homes.

Last month, Tim led a debate in Parliament where he presented a seven-point plan to tackle the crisis caused by excessive second home ownership:

  1. Make second homes and holiday lets new and separate categories of planning use. This would mean that councils and national parks would have the power to put a limit on the number of such properties in each town and village, protecting the majority of houses for permanent occupation.
  1. Provide targeted, ring-fenced finance so that planning departments have the resources to effectively police this new rule.
  1. Give councils the power to increase council tax by up to 100 per cent on second homes in the worst affected communities.
  1. Force all holiday let owners to pay council tax, rather than avoiding paying anything at all if they are deemed a small business.
  1. Give councils and national parks the power to ensure that 100 per cent of new builds are genuinely affordable.
  1. Ban section 21 no-fault evictions.
  1. Ensure that platforms like Airbnb are not allowed to cut corners and undermine the traditional holiday let industry, and have to meet the same standards as other rentals.

Speaking during Treasury Oral Questions in Parliament yesterday, Tim said: "Rural Britain's housing crisis has become a catastrophe over the last two years of the pandemic.

"The Chancellor will know all about that, given the kind of constituency he represents. Some 80% of all house sales in the lakes and dales in Cumbria have been to the second home market, and in some rural communities there has been a reduction in the private-rented affordable market of 70%.

"Local families are being forced out of our communities. The need for drastic and immediate action is obvious.

"Will the Minister agree - or will she agree to persuade her right honourable friend the Chancellor - to meet me, as the Chancellor's constituency neighbour, to sit down and look at seven steps for saving our rural communities, so that we can prevent our towns and villages being emptied of their full-time populations?

"That will surely include giving councils the freedom to double council tax on second homes."

Responding, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Lucy Frazer said: "I am happy to meet the honourable member to discuss the points he raises.

"We have taken a number of steps to ensure that people pay the full rate of council tax on second homes - 96% of second home owners pay the full rate of council tax.

"He will know that the Government introduced the higher rate of stamp duty land tax for those purchasing additional properties, and only last year introduced a new SDLT surcharge of 2%, to ensure that houses are available for local people at reasonable prices.

"I am happy to discuss this further with him."