A new tax break for second home-owners has been slammed by a Cumbrian MP as being an insult to communities in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
From the floor of the House of Commons, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said measures announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “mini-budget” mean that people looking to buy a second home will now have to pay stamp duty at only three per cent on a property worth up to £500,000.
He said this was a significant tax cut from the eight per cent stamp duty that second home-owners had to previously pay on a property which cost £250,000 and up — potentially saving them thousands of pounds.
Speaking during the second reading of the Stamp Duty Land Tax Bill, Mr Farron said: “As somebody who lives among these communities, I cannot deny the evidence of my eyes, which is that excessive second home ownership kills communities.
“When 50 per cent of the homes in Coniston are not lived in all year round, of course that is one of the reasons why the schools in that community do not have the numbers they would otherwise; of course it is a reason why bus services struggle; and of course it is a reason why shops, post offices and others shut.
“That is why this boon and bonus to second home owners is an insult to people in the Lakes and the Dales — the local people struggling to get by there — and why this should be an opportunity not to give these people an additional incentive to take homes out of the local market, but to tackle the incentives that currently exist.”
Judith Derbyshire, Eden District Council’s housing portfolio holder, said she welcomed much of the Government’s mini-budget and its support for those businesses, individuals and communities struggling with the impact of COVID-19.
“I have concerns about some aspects of the stamp duty tax cuts,” she said.
“The research I have seen so far shows that the big financial impacts caused by this crisis have been on those households on lower incomes who are in rented accommodation.
“I can understand the desire to ‘get the housing market moving’ for house sales and house building.
“However, tax breaks may encourage more people to buy second homes which, in my opinion, will just further increase the price of houses in many parts of Eden, making them even less affordable to people on local wages.
“In my view what we really need is better government grants to housing associations and community housing groups in Eden to be able to build truly affordable homes.”