Dominic Cummings and family ‘avoid huge council tax bill on Durham properties’

One law for them, another law for us. Owl has lost count of how many examples of divisiveness we had had, and that is just for this week! 

Dominic Cummings and his family are liable for council tax on two properties built at his family’s farm in the northeast of England, but backdated charges that reportedly could have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds will not apply. 

Officials have concluded that charges for the buildings, on the outskirts of Durham,  should start from this month rather than from when both properties were built, without planning permission.

The senior adviser to Boris Johnson is listed as a property owner, alongside his parents and sister, according to Land Registry title deeds.

The Northern Echo, which first reported the story, said council tax would be paid on Mr Cummings’ band A cottage, and his sister’s band C family home from 4 October. The paper claimed the amount written off could total up to £50,000.

The Valuation Office Agency refused to comment on individual cases when approached by The Independent.

However, John Hewitt, corporate director of resources at Durham County Council, said: “I can confirm that the Valuation Office Agency have concluded their inspection and provided us with details of the required changes to the valuation list in respect of North Lodge, where the current single assessment will be replaced with three entries in the rating list going forward.

“These changes will be implemented with effect from October 4, 2020, which is the date we have been instructed to apply the changes from.

“The date from which the rating list is to be amended is a matter for the Valuation Office Agency.

“We are instructed that it has made its assessment in line with the relevant legislation and custom and practice in terms of such changes in accordance with Article 3 of the Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order 1993.”

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John Shuttleworth, a Durham County councillor, told The Northern Echo: “If it was anybody else, they would be getting charged and it would be backdated, or they would be getting taken to court.

“It just proves there is two sets of rules, one for them and another for everyone else. It is not right.”

In June it was reported that there were “historic” breaches of planning regulations on Mr Cummings’ family estate on the outskirts of Durham city, where the No 10 adviser stayed with his wife and son after experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

Mr Cummings described the property at the time as “sort of concrete blocks” roughly 50 metres from his parents’ home.

In the aftermath of his lockdown trip to the farm, Durham County Council launched an investigation into planning permission relating to the properties after receiving a number of complaints.

The Independent has contacted No 10 for comment.