Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council have responded to Conservative councillors’ accusations of ‘cash handouts for second home owners’ by pointing out that they have been fighting the Tory second home tax avoidance scheme since 2012.
In April, the Liberal Democrat group on Cornwall Council challenged the Tory Government’s budget giveaway for holiday home owners and urge them to help those most in need.
Earlier this year, Conservative Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that there would be a grant of £10,000 for small businesses eligible for business rate relief as a result of disruption to the economy caused by Coronavirus. In Cornwall, this would exclude most small scale trades people and self employed workers, but would give most registered holiday home owners in Cornwall an extra £10,000.
In Cornwall this would mean that the 7000 holiday let owners in Cornwall who choose not to pay either council tax or business rates (because they get the small business relief) are eligible to receive a handout whilst leaving many other small businesses in Cornwall to pick up the tab.
Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council have been successful in securing a pilot scheme to enable 100% of business rates to be invested back into Cornwall instead of sending half of our business rates to Whitehall. The £10,000 grant will benefit second home owners who don’t contribute through business rates or council tax to the detriment of many local tradespeople and self employed workers.
Cornwall Council are obliged by law to administer these payments forced on Cornwall by London-based Tory MPs and spin doctors, despite much opposition from the Liberal Democrat group on Cornwall Council.
Deputy Leader of Cornwall Council, Adam Paynter said,
"It is outrageous that Conservative councillors in Cornwall are blaming Cornwall Council for their party’s scandalous second home handout policy.
“Many hardworking people in Cornwall are already bearing the brunt of the Tory Government’s economic policies; they are also getting the short end of the stick as Conservatives in Westminster prioritise holiday home owners for Coronavirus related grants.”
“It is a Tory-devised loophole that will gives second home owners a windfall of £21 million. That would be enough to reduce Council Tax by around 7% for all households in Cornwall.”
Andrew George, Lib Dem Parliamentary Campaigner for West Cornwall who has led successful campaigns to close tax benefits for second homes and who highlighted the present tax loophole since it was introduced in 2012 said,
“Every year tax loopholes in this sector cost Cornwall up to £100 million. That the Conservatives have insisted that Cornwall Council must handover £10,000 grants to second homers who already benefit from a tax loophole is scandalous. Up to £70 million has been paid out to second homers when so many hard working locals people have been denied support they need and deserve.
"So we’re pleased local Conservative councillors have finally acknowledged how unacceptable this is. Liberal Democrats have highlighted this for years. If local Conservatives want to do something to help they should join us in trying to persuade Conservative Ministers to scrap this loophole. Their astonishing attempt to shift the blame to hard-working council officers who are simply doing what the Government has insisted they do is shameful.”
“We repeat: The Government must 1. close this shocking tax loophole 2. stop forcing the Council to pay Covid-aid to second homers when there are so many more deserving cases and 3. give the Council the power to claw back the money they had forced it to pay out”.