Second home owners rewarded as they will get Rishi Sunak’s £400 energy bill discount twice
There has been criticism of Rishi Sunak’s energy bill discount after it was revealed that second home owners will get it twice – double the £400 received by others.
The Treasury has confirmed that this applies to every individual house – including second homes – prompting criticism from MPs who have campaigned to clamp down on the number of second homes.
Cumbria MP Tim Farron, who has called for Wales’ measures to tackle the number of second homes to be applied to England, said that it showed that the measure were “a rush job to try to save the PM’s skin”.
“Excessive second home ownership kills rural communities, yet the Conservatives have now given an incentive to make things even worse for us,” the former Liberal Democrat leader said.
About 772,000 households with two homes will benefit from £800 in October instead of the £400 received by those with just one.
About 61,000 people with three homes are in line for payments totalling £1,200. The Chancellor himself the owner of three homes in the UK, but has said that he will donate any money he receives from the scheme to charity.
The Welsh Government confirmed last week that they will crack on with tax hikes on holiday lets that do not rent out their properties for more than half the year.
Following a consultation, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said that she did “recognise the strength of feeling among self-catering operators” but would not be changing the planned law changes.
Some holiday let owners had argued that become unviable if planned law changes go ahead next year.
From April local authorities will be able to set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties to 300% from April 2023.
The criteria for self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates instead of council tax will also change at the same time, from 70 to 182 days. This will stop second home owners from classifying homes as businesses because they are let out for one fifth of the year.
“As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, we are committed to taking immediate action to address the impact of second homes and unaffordable housing in communities across Wales, using the planning, property and taxation systems,” Rebecca Evans said.
“As we continue to progress the package of measures and drawing on the latest evidence base, we will keep under constant review the whole range of levers available to use and how they may be deployed most effectively to meet our policy objectives and avoid any unintended consequences.”
She added that “I recognise the strength of feeling among self-catering operators and have listened to the representations from individual businesses and industry representative bodies.
“There is limited evidence available in relation to some of these considerations and I am grateful to the sector for providing additional information they have gathered from their members.
“This has been taken into account in completing the Explanatory Memorandum and Regulatory Impact Assessment, which makes use of the available evidence. I recognise that the stronger criteria may be challenging for some operators to meet.
“The purpose of the change is to help ensure property owners are making a fair contribution to local communities, for example by increasing their contribution to the local economy through greater letting activity or by paying council tax on their properties.”
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