Just days after North Yorkshire County Council’s executive agreed to investigate whether it could effectively levy a 100 per cent council tax rise on second homes, people who have owned a holiday home in the county for decades said the move would simply make second homes the privilege of the wealthy.
The local authority has heralded the proposal, which it believes could generate £14m extra a year for its services, as a signal of its intent to get to grips with the lack of affordable housing affecting communities, particularly in the county’s national parks and coastal areas.
Last month residents in Whitby voted overwhelmingly in favour of introducing measures to reduce the number of homes being used for holiday accommodation. That followed last year’s Rural Commision recommending actions to reverse the ongoing exodus of young families from areas where house prices are many times above average wages.
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The county council’s leadership says interventions are needed more than ever to release homes for local residents, particularly following the widely reported post-pandemic surge in second home purchases in North Yorkshire villages.
Askrigg in Wensleydale is now comprised of about 70 per cent second homes and holiday lets.
However, second home owners have voiced dismay over the proposal to levy the premium from April 2024 if the government introduces the necessary legislation, questioning whether it would harm the local economy or be effective in reducing property prices or increase the housing stock for locals.
Debate on online forums such as the Dales Home Owners Action Group has seen members condemn the proposal as “half-baked”.
One objector stated: “We are easy targets for a complicated problem and it won’t mean that the locals suddenly have lots of cheap houses or massive pay rises.”
Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council chair Councillor Jill McMullon said the proposal was “a nonsense” as it had so many loopholes.
She said: “People will just say their holiday home in North Yorkshire is their permanent home. How are they going to police that?”
Second home owners have said if the premium is introduced they would recoup their losses by shipping in groceries instead of using local shops and services less frequently.
Yorkshire Dales second home owner Mark Cox said: “I expect it will simply make second homes the preserve of the rich, as opposed to the moderately well-off. I expect the funds raised won’t be ringfenced for local affordable housing and will soon vanish into the usual council overspending.
“Second home owners are an easy target, but who will be next? Extra council tax for hardworking locals who own holiday rental properties that pay neither council tax nor business rates?”