English Tory MP back plans to deal with the second-homes crisis in Wales
An English Conservative MP says he backs plans for a council tax levy to limit second homes and supports the approach being adopted in Wales to combat the problem.
North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker represent a constituency which has the highest number of second homes anywhere in England or Wales outside of London and says action must be taken to address the problems caused by high levels of second-home ownership.
Last month the Welsh Government announced that the maximum council tax premium on second homes is set to be raised to 300% to help local authorities tackle the negative impact vacant houses, holiday lets and soaring property prices are having on local communities.
Councils across Wales will be able set the premium at any level up to the maximum, from April 2023.
Second homeowners in England can currently avoid paying council tax and access small business rates relief by declaring an intention to let the property out to holidaymakers.
But the UK government has announced plans to tighten this loophole.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Mr Baker said that although he was a Conservative who believed “in a free market”, something should be done about the impact of second homes.
“I don’t think we should be in a position where if people work hard all their lives they shouldn’t be able to buy the asset that they want to. That said we should be able to do clever, innovative things.
“I quite like the Welsh model that was being proposed where you ringfence particular areas of the country – that could be some of the wards in my area experiencing this problem – and we raise council tax levies that are higher.
“That money can be ploughed back into local services that are dormant in the winter, it can build homes.”
Mr Baker added: “We need to look really seriously at how we can build more affordable homes, and how we can deliver homes at a suitable price for people.
“There are so many connected problems – if you’re in the hospitality industry in some of these coastal areas, you can’t afford staff because nobody can rent at an affordable price.”
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