A Devon council has slashed the discount available on Council Tax for owners of second homes. South Hams District Council has reacted to second homeowners pricing out locals by cutting Council Tax discounts from 50% to 10%, as permitted under the Local Government Act 2003. The council estimates the move will bring in an extra £2m a year, which it has pledged to spend on affordable housing.
At the beginning of this year, Barclays Private Clients estimated, average property prices were nine times local average income. It said this was almost entirely due to the level of second homeownership, which runs at 11.5% in the area.
South Hams District Council leader Richard Yonge said: “We have long believed the second homes discount was an unfair loophole. As we have some of the worst housing problems in the country, we should be the first to redress the balance.”
However, Cornwall has established a forum of local councils, housing groups, MPs and mortgage industry figures to look at similar problems. Andrew Sinclair, director at The Mortgage Group, a member of the forum, commented: “The forum has been looking more at issues of planning approvals and consent, and how we can develop housing affordably and sustain it. I am not sure that is what they have done in South Hams by penalising second homeowners.”