Council tax levy could limit second homes, says MP

Jetty Street, Cromer.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Jetty Street in Cromer. The popularity of north Norfolk's towns and villages has let to a high proportion of second homes. - Credit: ANTONY KELLY

Charging second home owners in parts of north Norfolk a levy on their council tax could be one way of addressing problems caused by high second-home ownership, said North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. 

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. 

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"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."

The Welsh government has said some second home owners could have to start paying four times their current level of council tax from April next year. Welsh councils can already charge a second-home premium of up to 100pc, and this is set to rise to 300pc next year.

Second home owners in England can currently avoid paying council tax and access small business rates relief by simply declaring an intention to let the property out to holidaymakers. But the government has announced plans to tighten this loophole. 

North Norfolk has highest number of second homes anywhere in England or Wales outside London

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Second homes account for 9.8pc of all housing stock in North Norfolk. Only the City of London (27.6pc) and Kensington and Chelsea (10.5pc) rank higher.  

Tim Adams, North Norfolk District Council leader, said the council was considering introducing a Cumbria-style model of voluntary contributions from second home-owners to help fund community projects.

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."