Anger at bid to switch second homes tax revenue

A PLAN to divert millions of pounds of second home council tax income away from building affordable housing and into infrastructure projects has infuriated campaigners and politicians.

A PLAN to divert millions of pounds of second home council tax income away from building affordable housing and into infrastructure projects has infuriated campaigners and politicians.

Some of Norfolk's �3.3m a year second home council tax pot could be reallocated in a bid to get the county's infrastructure ready for the significant housing growth expected in the county in years to come.

The move is being put to a meeting of Norfolk County Council's cabinet on

Monday.


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But politicians representing people living in second home hotspots have criticised the idea, saying the priority for this specific income stream should continue to be tackling the impacts on the towns and villages where second homes have become commonplace.

The debate centres on a quarter share of the total �3.3m a year tax bill, equivalent to �829,000 every year. This money is currently ring fenced for the county council to spend on affordable housing projects in consultation with the relevant district councils.

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But from the start of the new financial year it could be put into a newly created Norfolk Infrastructure Fund.

Marie Strong, county councillor for the Wells division, said: 'A number of the parishes in my division have what they feel is a surfeit of second homes.

'They were comforted at the thought of a contribution going to affordable

housing.

'The proposal may be highly commendable, particularly for the needs of Norwich, Thetford and King's Lynn. But it will not please the villages which have many needs which this money could help alleviate.'

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said it would be an 'outrage' if money collected in north Norfolk which should be used to help people in the constituency facing high house prices and a shortage of homes was redirected to far-off urban areas.

'It's a change of policy which I would find horrific and a complete breach of trust. It is taking money from one disadvantaged group in a rural area and helping another disadvantaged group in an urban area.

'There simply isn't any justification for that.'

Monday's cabinet meeting will propose the creation of a Norfolk Infrastructure Fund using the �829,000 a year plus unspent funding previously collected and put in the affordable housing allocation. This currently stands at �1.1m, although this figure may drop because Norfolk Norfolk District Council may withdraw its allocation of around �343,000 before March.

Subsequent agreement will have to be sought from full council.

Since 2004, most second home owners have had the discount on their council tax bills cut from 50pc to 10pc, although whether to bill the extra money is up to each local authority so it is not charged everywhere.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'Although the affordable housing is very important, it is also important that communities are not put together without the right infrastructure.'

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