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Report: ‘Consider five times Council Tax for second homes’

Bainbridge, 11 December, 2017

A report published today on attracting families to the Yorkshire Dales National Park has formally outlined a proposal to increase Council Tax on second homes in the Park.

It suggests that a figure of “at least five times” the current rate of Council Tax should be considered for second homes.

The report will be debated at a meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) on 19 December.  If the YDNPA approve it, the proposal will then be put to the five District Councils in the Park (Craven, Eden, Richmondshire and South Lakeland Districts and Lancaster City Council) and three County Councils (Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire).  

The report proposes that:

The YDNPA, the five District Councils and three County Councils seek government support for the establishment of a five-year pilot to test whether a substantial increase in Council Tax for second homes, within the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, would have a positive effect by:

  1. encouraging some existing homes back into full time occupancy;
  2. discouraging the purchase of further second homes; and
  3. ensuring that remaining second home owners are making a similar ‘socio-economic contribution’ to the local area as permanent residents

The report recommends that the YDNPA:

  • Support putting further time into working with the constituent District Councils to try to reach agreement on a joint programme of activity to attract more families and people of working age to move to the National Park; and as part of that programme, approve the Authority working alongside the District Councils to develop a specific proposal to Government on second homes.

The report says,  “There can be no doubt that the long term viability of communities in the National Park has been adversely affected by the level of second home ownership.  

“The scale of the impact can be gleaned from the 2011 census.  Whilst an average of 65 new homes were created each year between 2001-2011, approximately  90 houses were being turned into second homes or holiday lets each year.  

“A certain number of holiday lets is economically beneficial to the area. They are run as businesses, generate supply chains and are usually owned and serviced by local people.  Second homes are usually much less so.  They ‘deny’ a home to a permanent resident and push up prices. They also generate a substantial economic ‘loss’ to the area because for much of the year there is no one in them spending money.  

“The overall effect has been dramatic: pushing up house prices beyond the reach of local people, especially younger people.  Second homes also reduce the money circulating within the local economy and the demand for local services such as primary schools to a level where local authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to justify on-going provision.  The overall impact of this is a change in demographic to more elderly retired, the ‘flight of the young’ and a downward spiral in local services.”

After outlining the proposal, the report goes on to state: “It is not for the YDNPA to set the level of Council Tax that might apply during the pilot period. We are not a Council Tax precepting authority. This can be decided only by the authorities that have responsibility for these matters. Nonetheless the sum concerned has to be of sufficient magnitude to have a significant impact.  

“It is suggested that a figure of at least five times the current rate should be considered.  To provide an indication of impact, that would equate to a charge of at least £8,500 per annum on a Band D property.  It is unlikely that this initiative would raise significant revenue, and that is not the aim. However, any additional funding that is raised should be ring-fenced to provide extra support for local services in the Park communities.”

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