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Country News - 2002

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Tax on second homes to build local housing?
Wednesday 13 November 2002

SECOND HOME owners should be forced to pay full council taxes - and the extra money raised used to build affordable homes for rural couples.

This is one of several radical proposals put forward today by the Countryside Agency today, the day of the Queen's Speech to Parliament which will lay out the Government's legislative programme for the coming year.

The lack of affordable houses - whether to rent or buy - has been one of the greatest social problems in the Yorkshire Dales for the past twenty years, with young locals being driven from their villages because of soaring property prices caused by wealthy outsiders buying holiday homes.

The Government-funded agency is also demanding that new sites for affordable housing be allocated by planners, a ban on the "right to buy" for rural council tenants, and a drive for more affordable housing in market towns.

Says agency chairman Ewen Cameron: "We urgently need more co-ordinated action by all those involved across a number of key areas such as planning and finance to produce a dynamic policy framework which will deliver a much needed increase in the supply of affordable housing in rural."

The timing of the new planning policy from the agency on the day of the Queen's speech could be highly significant because it has been widely expected that the Government is about to scrap the policy which allows second home owners to pay only half the council taxes of their "local" neighbours.

In some Yorkshire Dales villages, weekend cottages and holiday homes make up some 40% of the local housing stock, which means that full-time residents have to pay extra council taxes to make up for the second home shortfall.

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