Plans to double council tax on second homes not 'workable', campaigner says

Government plans to double council tax on second homes would be too difficult to enforce, campaigner says.

Government plans to double council tax on second homes would be too difficult to enforce, campaigner says. - Credit: Valerie Rozier

The government looks set to double council tax on under-used second homes – but Suffolk campaigners doubt the law could be enforced.

Plans to give councils powers to increase council tax by 100% on second homes that are not let out or lived in for 70 days per year could be unveiled in the Queen's Speech this week, it has been has reported.

According to the reports, owners will be expected to contribute towards "crucial services in a way that can really benefit the whole community and boost levelling up".

In 2021, there were 7,883 second homes in Suffolk and north Essex – 4,113 of which were in East Suffolk.

David Beavan, a Liberal Democrat councillor and vocal campaigner on the issue of second homes in Southwold, says he does not believe the government plans could be enforced.

Cllr David Beavan Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Cllr David Beavan - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"I can't see it's workable," he said. "It's difficult to prove somebody has not been there for 70 days without someone sitting outside the home every day of the year and life's too short for that."

Instead, Mr Beavan argued the government should tighten existing legislation before drafting wholly new laws.

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He said: "It'd be a hell of a lot easier just to enforce the existing laws on empty properties properly. Do the job properly instead of trying to make up new laws that are not going to work."

Maurice Cook, East Suffolk Council cabinet member in charge of council tax, said: "In theory, it is a possible way of dealing with what is a serious issue in some communities.

Maurice Cook, East Suffolk Council cabinet member for resources

Maurice Cook, East Suffolk Council cabinet member for resources - Credit: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

"Any forms of additional income to help our council taxpayers would be welcomed, but the devil is going to be in the details.

"We may end up in a situation where it'd be far more expensive to administer it than the benefits it would achieve."

Peter Palmer, deputy mayor of Aldeburgh, said he and others on the town council were concerned about whether second homes were contributing enough council tax but, he added, he was not sure the proposed law was the way forward.

"Whether or not it would make a substantial difference to the second home and rental market in the town is is anybody's guess, to be honest."