UK seaside town where rich outsiders are having council tax doubled

Seaside towns are a popular destination for the rich to spend their summers, sometimes in a second or holiday home. The 2021 census showed around 217,000 people in England and Wales owned a holiday home in the UK, up from 180,000 in 2011. Now a council has decided to double to amount of council tax paid by those who own a second home in the district. South Hams District Council is aiming to crack down on the issue after declaring a housing crisis in 2021.

As part of a 12-point action plan, the council is hoping to lobby the Government to allow local councils to charge 200 percent Council Tax on second or holiday homes.

Their efforts proved successful when in May 2022, the government published its Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

The Bill included proposals to address the negative impact of second homes on the availability to meet local housing needs.

The earliest the plans could come in is April 1, 2024.

Speaking on the issue of second homes in the area, Conservative Council leader Judy Pearce said there are “just under 4,000-second homes in the district” with “one in every 12 homes” a second home”.

Ms Pearce said: “The level of second home ownership in the South Hams has detrimentally affected the long-term viability of our communities.

“House prices are pushed upwards by the sheer quantity of second homes. Local residents can be denied a home as prices are pushed outside of what they can reasonably afford, a problem that is especially acute for the younger generation and first-time buyers.”

She added that the plan to raise council tax is to “level the playing field” and “not an attack on second homeowners” but help those who “all have a right to have somewhere decent to live”.

Council tax is an annual fee paid to your local council which goes towards funding local services.

How much you pay depends on your personal circumstances, which valuation your property is in and how much the council needs.

The Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill states: “The Bill recognises the impact that high levels of second home ownership can have in some areas and will introduce a new discretionary council tax premium on second homes of up to 100%.

“It will also allow councils to apply a council tax premium of up to 100% on homes which have been empty for longer than one year (rather than two years as currently).

“This will encourage more empty homes into productive use, while enabling councils to raise and retain additional revenue to support local services and keep council tax down for local residents.”

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