Mid Devon: Second homeowner tax increase

They could pay double next year

Mid Devon plans to double council tax for second homeowners when new powers come into force.

Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk 

The government included the surcharge for second homes in its levelling up and regeneration bill last year, but they are not expected to be introduced until next year at the earliest.

On Tuesday [3 January] Mid Devon District Council’s cabinet agreed to adopt the policy, subject to further approval by full council, becoming the latest of Devon’s local authorities to provisionally sign up.

Before Christmas, South Hams Council also agreed to double council tax for people who own second homes, once it has the power to do so. Cornwall Council has agreed likewise.

According to a report, the 100 per cent premium could bring more than £400,000 in extra council tax revenue per year.

It is hoped the change will also free up more properties and ease the current housing crisis in Devon,  with claims that key workers are struggling to move to the area due to the lack of suitable housing.

At this week’s meeting, deputy council leader Clive Egington (Conservative, Taw Vale) said: “I’m sure a number of members are content that the provision for second homeowners will be increased to 200 per cent with effect from 1 April 2024.

“I know this is something that cabinet for a number of years has discussed and wish to have implemented and I’m glad to see that the wherewithal has now given us, effectively, the opportunity to do this.”

When the levelling-up bill was first unveiled last year, including allowing English councils to be able to double tax on unoccupied second homes, housing secretary Michael Gove told Times Radio that he didn’t think second homes were “immoral.”

But he added: “I think it’s important to recognise that when you have people in places like Devon who are local folk who can’t get onto the housing ladder, because the price of property has been bid up by second homeowners, sometimes you need to take appropriate steps in order to make sure that communities can flourish.”

Mid Devon’s cabinet also provisionally agreed to adopt another new power in the levelling-up bill, allowing councils to double council tax faster on properties that have been empty of furniture and residents for 12 months – a reduction from the current two years.

A full meeting of the council will be asked to rubber-stamp the decisions in the coming weeks.