Second home owners in Cornwall face council tax rise if properties left empty

In Cornwall alone, some areas have up to 40% of properties being used as second homes Credit: Cornwall Live/BPM

Cornwall Council will be given the power to double council tax on second homes in plans due to be announced next week in the Queen's Speech.

In Cornwall alone, some areas have up to 40% of properties being used as second homes.

According to estimates by estate agents Barrows and Forrester, there are more than £2billion worth of empty homes in Cornwall - around 7,083 empty houses in the county.

Under the new rules, English councils will gain 'discretionary powers' to levy a premium of up to 100% on council tax bills for second homes which are furnished but not occupied as a sole or main residence.

Other homes which are left empty could also see the standard council tax rates doubled after 12 months, compared to the current period of two years.

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: "In this difficult time for everyone, these powers will allow local councils to use this levy to invest back direct into local services for hard-working Cornish taxpayers, while the closure of the loophole on holiday lets earlier this year will mean that genuine holiday let businesses will not be affected.”

There are currently more than £2 billion worth of empty homes in Cornwall

It is thought the move will discourage owners from leaving properties vacant for a long time while simultaneously injecting money back into local areas.

Cornwall Council leader Linda Taylor said: “Second homes that stay empty for most of the year are increasingly becoming a real threat to the viability of so many communities across Cornwall, particularly given the housing crisis which has been exacerbated by international events, including the Covid-19 pandemic."

She added: “At Cornwall Council we have been calling for the Government to allow us additional powers to do something about this, and this levy does just that.

"It will provide us with extra revenue to go back into funding council services to benefit the residents of Cornwall.”

In addition to having the power to apply greater premiums at a level of their choice, local authorities will have flexibility on how to spend the funds raised and can decide to prioritise keeping council tax bills low for local households.