Anger as second homeowners set to receive £191million in Covid grants

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Southwold is one of the places that has a high number of second homes and holiday lets - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Second homeowners who have flipped their holiday homes into lettings businesses are set to secure about £191 million of new pandemic grants from the Government, despite a new crackdown.

Councils across England have started distributing £635 million in grants to businesses affected by the Government's Plan B restrictions and caution over the spread of the Omicron variant.

However, new analysis by property tax specialists at Altus Group has found that almost a third of this funding pot will go to property owners who have flipped their holiday retreats.

Owners of holiday homes, who make their properties available to rent for 140 days of the year, are entitled to claim 100% small business rates relief if properties have a rateable value of less than £12,000 meaning that they pay no business rates or council tax.

Hospitality, leisure and accommodation firms which were hit by Omicron can now apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 for each of their properties, depending on its business rates valuation, after the Government delivered funding to councils last week.

Those business premises, which specifically covers holiday homes, with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or below will receive a payment of £2,667 whilst those with a rateable value over £15,000 but less than £51,000 will receive £4,000.

The maximum grant of £6,000 is available for those businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or above.

Cllr David Beavan Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Cllr David Beavan - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Southwold, Walberswick and Reydon county councillor David Beavan, is a vocal critic of second homeowners who falsely claim they market the property as a holiday let to secure tax breaks.

Of the latest news, he said: "This is fraud, pure and simple, to claim a grant for loss of business when you have no business.

"Unfortunately some people saw the Covid epidemic as an opportunity to profit while most of us saw it as an opportunity to help. It is vital that the recipients of government grants are publicised otherwise corruption will be rife.”

Altus said there are now 70,729 homes in England classified as holiday homes which have been flipped to "commercial" premises, up from 56,102 just before the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and which are now entitled to £190.61 million in Omicron grants.

The Government has announced that from April 2023, second homeowners will have to prove holiday lets are not just being made available for 140 days year but are also actually being rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year to access the relief.