Cornwall Council will not get new powers to charge extra council tax on second homes until at least 2024.
Earlier this year the government hailed plans to allow local councils to charge a premium on second homes in efforts to tackle the housing crisis.
However, Cornwall Council officers yesterday (27 July) told councillors that it was not expected to be introduced until 2024 at the earliest, and could even be delayed until 2025/26.
Under the proposals for a new premium on second homes, local councils in England would be able to charge double council tax on homes which are furnished but not used as a sole or main residence.
The plans to increase council tax on second homes were welcomed by Conservative MPs and councillors in Cornwall who said it would help Cornwall Council fund local services as well as provide affordable housing for local people.
However, details of the delay in getting the new powers were revealed at a meeting of Cornwall Council’s customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee.
Tracy Stepney, interim head of financial planning and insight explained to councillors that the second homes premium would be in line with the Levelling Up bill from April 2024 but added that “it may be 2025/26”.
They also heard that an empty homes premium being applicable after one year would also be introduced in 2024.
Independent councillor Julian German said: “People thought there would be money coming through this year from the much lauded announcement about second homes but it will not now be coming for at least two years to help solve the housing crisis.”
Tracie Langley, chief operating officer, replied: “Your point about the ability to increase council tax setting currently on second homes is well made. The Government has said that will not be available until 2024.”
Ms Langley also highlighted that the long promised fairer funding review for local councils was also now being delayed. The Government announced in 2016 that it was launching a fairer funding review to look at the formula used to calculate how much money is given to local councils.
It was proposed that the review would result in a better funding system which would take into account the spending needs of local authorities as well as their ability to raise revenue to fund services.
There have been repeated claims over many years that Cornwall loses out on the amount of money it gets to fund council services compared to other parts of the country. Ms Langley said: “It is likely that the fairer funding review will be pushed into 2025/26, possibly 2026/27.
Cllr German responded saying: “What a shame that there is not going to be a fairer funding review in the lifetime of this Parliament, another five years has passed with no fairer funding review.”
Credit: Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter