Holiday let owners have claimed £50 million of grants made available for Cornish businesses to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been revealed.
Figures show 5,000 holiday lets, which are eligible for the money provided by the Government to keep small businesses afloat, have each claimed £10,000 from the scheme, the Local Democracy Service reports.
The figure was uncovered by Labour councillor Cornelius Olivier who says it is 'scandalous' some second home owners are benefitting from the scheme.
The Penzance councillor has been campaigning to close a ‘business rates loophole’ for holiday lets for many years.
Though some of these holiday lets could perhaps be described as genuine businesses, most are not, they are second homes whose owners have been exploiting a tax loophole to dodge paying both Council Tax and Business Rates and are now using it to grab cash which they don’t need and should be stopped from getting.
Currently, holiday let owners can class their properties as small businesses.
This means they avoid paying both Council Tax and Business Rates as they are below the income threshold.
Cornwall Council has given out around £195 million to more than 17,000 businesses through the coronavirus grant scheme.
But, after the figure was revealed Cllr Olivier began to investigate to find out how many of those were holiday lets.
It turns out that some 8,000 of the ‘businesses’ eligible for £10,000, according to Government rules, are ‘holiday lets’. Over 5,000 of these have received more than £50 million out of the money paid out so far.
According to the Local Democracy Reporting service (LDRS) 27% of the money from the governments Coronavirus Business Support scheme in Cornwall has gone to holiday lets.
Cornwall Council says it is following rules around who qualifies for grants set by the Government.
We are aware that there are businesses across Cornwall which are struggling to get support because of their individual circumstances and the fact they are not the liable person to pay business rates.
They urged anyone who believes they may qualify for a grant to get in touch by calling the council on 0300 1234 171. Businesses on the Isles of Scilly should call the Council of the Isles of Scilly on 0300 1234 105.