Leaks from government ahead of this morning’s Queen’s Speech suggest that second homes which are not let out are likely to face higher council tax bills.
The leaks say that the government will give local councils the power to double council tax on second homes as part of the much-hyped levelling up agenda.
Under the new rules, English local authorities will gain discretionary powers to levy a premium of up to 100 per cent on council tax bills for second homes that are furnished but not occupied as a sole or main residence.
Other homes - not necessarily holiday properties - which are left empty could also see the standard council tax rate doubled after 12 months as opposed to two years at present.
The government claims this will discourage owners from leaving properties vacant for a long time, while injecting money back into local areas.
In addition to having the power to apply greater premiums at a level of their choice, local authorities will have flexibility on how to spend the funds raised and can decide to prioritise keeping council tax bills low for local households.
Comments from Conservative politicians in one region with extensive holiday home ownership suggest the move is highly likely to be announced later today.
Steve Double, the Tory MP for St Austell and Newquay in Cornwalls, tells the local media in the county: "In this difficult time for everyone, these powers will allow local councils to use this levy to invest back direct into local services for hard-working Cornish taxpayers, while the closure of the loophole on holiday lets earlier this year will mean that genuine holiday let businesses will not be affected.”
And the Conservative leader of Cornwall Council, Linda Taylor, adds: “Second homes that stay empty for most of the year are increasingly becoming a real threat to the viability of so many communities across Cornwall, particularly given the housing crisis which has been exacerbated by international events, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At Cornwall Council we have been calling for the government to allow us additional powers to do something about this, and this levy does just that. It will provide us with extra revenue to go back into funding council services to benefit the residents of Cornwall.”