Tomorrow (19th), South Lakes MP Tim Farron will lead a Westminster Hall debate on the impact that second home ownership is having on communities across Cumbria.
Tim will call for the Government to take three actions to protect towns and villages where the number of second homes is over 50%.
Close the business-rates loophole for second home owners which allows them to get away with paying no council tax at all and therefore contributing no money towards local services.
Give local authorities the power to raise council tax on second homes to disincentivise absentee ownership and raise funds to subsidise at-risk local services.
Change the planning law so that turning a first home into a second home should require planning permission, so local councils are able to flatly reject anyone seeking permission in a community that is already under pressure from excessive second home ownership.
During the debate, Tim will say: “There is no getting away from the fact that excessive numbers of second homes rob communities of a permanent population and of the subsequent demand for local services, they rob those communities of life and vitality and they can rob them of the resources they need in order to be sustainable. Excessive second home ownership also contributes to pushing up house prices beyond what is affordable for most local families.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests second home ownership has risen significantly in the days since the incentive to register disappeared – up from an estimated 7,000 properties in South Lakeland in 2006 to a likely figure of 10,000 homes today. 10,000 homes that do not have a permanent occupant, 10,000 homes not sending children to a local school, 10,000 homes not providing weekly demand for the post office, the bus service, the pub, the church, the village store. It’s no surprise that the loss of vital services like these so often follows the loss of a permanent population. Excessive second home ownership kills villages. I want to encourage the Government today to do these three things that would tackle this problem and keep our villages alive.”