Poulter demands action to stop second-home owners abusing grants

Dr Dan Poulter is concerned that some second home owners could try to get business grants. picture:

Dr Dan Poulter is concerned that some second home owners could try to get business grants. picture: Office of DR DAN POULTER - Credit: Archant

Unscrupulous second home owners could exploit the government’s financial support for small businesses to get a £10,000 grant for their properties in Suffolk, a local MP has warned.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter has written to government ministers, urging them to implement the findings of a study into second home ownership that was launched 18 months ago by Rishi Sunak when he was a local government minister.

Back in 2018 there were cases of owners of second homes claiming their properties were holiday lets – meaning they did not have to pay council tax – even though there was no evidence of anyone using their properties as holiday lets.

That prompted Mr Sunak to announce a consultation into the issue – but the results of that have never been published.

Dr Poulter fears now that second home owners who are registered as a business could also apply for up to £10,000 from the government under the emergency support for small companies.

He said that second home owners merely had to say that their properties were available to let for at least 140 days a year without providing any evidence – leaving the door open to abuse.

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Dr Poulter said “The consultation launched back in 2018 is yet to conclude, meaning that homeowners who are abusing the system are still free to claim relief under the Government’s Coronavirus grant schemes.

“Quite rightly, this is causing great concern amongst many of my constituents who have contacted me, as well as the District Councils who are charged with administering the Government grants.

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“I too share their concerns and this is why I have raised this matter urgently with Government Ministers, calling on them to take urgent action to tackle this unscrupulous behaviour.”

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The question of second home owners is a major issue on the Suffolk coast – and East Suffolk Liberal Democrat councillor David Beavan was elected on to the authority because of concern about second home owners in the area.

He said: “I am delighted to hear that one of Suffolk’s Conservative MPs is taking up this issue. It is a very serious concern that many of those with second homes may abuse the system like this – It would be easy for HMRC to demand proof that they are running a business.”

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