Councils set for cash boost

MILLIONS of pounds in extra tax will soon be heading for council coffers – as holiday home owners are set to be told to cough up more cash.Local authorities across Suffolk are today looking to implement new government legislation which allows them to cut the discount given to people who own second or holiday homes in the county.

MILLIONS of pounds in extra tax will soon be heading for council coffers – as holiday home owners are set to be told to cough up more cash.

Local authorities across Suffolk are today looking to implement new government legislation which allows them to cut the discount given to people who own second or holiday homes in the county.

At present, thousands of well-off families own a home by the sea or deep in the countryside used for weekends or breaks while living elsewhere most of the year.

For their extra home, they pay only half the amount of council tax that their neighbours pay – but now they will be asked to pay 90 per cent of the bill.

Suffolk Coastal has the most holiday and second homes in the county – 2,499 properties, nearly five pc of the area's housing stock.

The council's cabinet is recommended on January 6 to cut the council tax discount from 50pc to 10pc from April.

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It will provide a significant boost to the tax collected as the government will not take the extra funding into account when giving grant aid.

Director of finance Peter Collicott said if the 10pc discount had applied this year it would have provided Suffolk Coastal with £115,800 extra, plus another £901,600 for the county council, and £110,700 for the police.

"The changes to the legislation governing the council tax on second homes was prompted by concerns over the economic impact that second homes were having in some areas of the country," said Mr Collicott.

"These included further pressure on property prices, in particular prices for smaller accommodation which would be suitable for first-time buyers."

There was also concern second homes had cut the amount of property available for local people to buy to be close to their work or families.

Businesses also had deep concerns that unoccupied holiday homes cut the use of shops, pubs and post offices, making some unviable and leading to closures.

The government has also said the 50pc tax discount given on long-term empty homes can be removed – which councils hope may encourage owners to bring them back into use and ease the housing crisis.

In Suffolk Coastal there are 800 long-term empty homes.

Mid Suffolk will consider the second homes issue on January 5 and is set to also cut the discount to 10pc, which will raise £15,000 extra to help its budget.

"The move is to support communities to try to ensure that the burden is spread fairly and that it isn't a case of some subsidising others," said a spokeswoman.

Babergh has already agreed to cut the discount to 10pc and hopes this will increase the availability of low cost housing by forcing homeowners to rent out their second home.

The move will raise around £449,000 in the next financial year – about £44,000 for the district council and the rest for the county council and police.

And Ipswich council is also planning to cut the discount for second home-owners to 10 percent, although there are only a few in the town itself.

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