Controlling numbers of 2nd homes and a 2nd homes levy

Posted on: 12th September 2014

Controlling numbers of 2nd homes and a 2nd homes levy were discussed at the Homes and Communities Portfolio Advisory Group, of Cornwall Council today. This came about as a result of a motion, put to full council back in April. The motion asked that the Leader of the Council send a letter to the Prime Minister and relevant Government Cabinet minister seeking powers for Council to

  • levy a charge on 2nd homes, up to the value of their Council Tax liability, to provide a fund to build affordable homes
  • require ‘change of use applications’ for homes purchased for use as a 2nd home.

A report put together for Councillors cautioned against the levy on 2nd homes, warning that if such a levy was possible it may have unintended consequences that would reduce income to the Council rather than producing a fund that would help the Council address the shortage of homes for local people. Whilst the Labour group, moving the original motion, initially wanted to stick to their request Cllr Sue James put a compromise forward, worded as follows:

“This Council is committed to working with other Councils, local M.Ps and the Local Government Association, to explore and propose an effective way of introducing a sustainable communities levy on second homes.”

Cllr James explained “that by researching a potential way of introducing a 2nd homes levy, that minimised negative unintended consequences, was collectable and had the support of other Councils and M.Ps, it was more likely to make something come of a letter sent to Government.” She went on to explain to the committee “that whilst many communities might want any additional money raised to provide homes for local people, some communities, affected by high numbers of 2nd homes, might have other needs that funding would help them with and it would be a shame if these too could not be supported, hence the term sustainable communities levy.”

This compromise recommendation was passed by the majority of the committee and will be put to Full Council for consideration.

The committee also supported putting to full council writing to the Government to seek powers, where there is evidence that the numbers of 2nd homes are affecting the sustainability of communities to, through planning, restrict the change from a permanent home to a 2nd home. This kind of request was put to Nick Boles, MP in May 2013 but did not get a positive response. It has however now been taken up by South Lakeland District Council, under the Sustainable Communities Act and has been supported by Cornwall Council and 14 other Local Authorites. This case was put in June 2014 so any letter sent would be adding weight to that.