Cornwall's Liberal Democrats have welcomed a proposal by the authority to end the council tax discount for second homes and for empty properties. The proposals had been demanded by the Lib Dem group for many years and were finally made possible by legislation from the Liberal Democrats in Government.
My colleague, Lib Dem group leader Jeremy Rowe, said:
"The second home council tax discount is an anathema which harms local services. I'm delighted that the Lib Dems in government have made the change that allows councils to charge full council tax on second homes and equally delighted that Cornwall is proposing to implement the change at the first opportunity.
"The authority is also proposing that empty homes will be exempt from council tax only for the first month. This change is aimed at encouraging owners not to leave homes empty when there are more than 25,000 families on the housing waiting list. Indeed, the council is going further and proposing a penalty premium of an extra 50% on empty properties left vacant for more than 2 years. The council has a number of grant programmes in place to help the owners of empty properties bring them back into use, so there should be no excuse.
"In addition a loophole that allowed homeowners to escape council tax if they could show that a house was undergoing major repairs is being closed and these will only get a 50% discount for a single year and then have to pay full council tax thereafter.
"Cornwall's Liberal Democrats have been calling for these changes for many years. I'm delighted that the council has agreed to act. We need to protect local services from cuts as much as possible and it is right that second home owners and those who own empty homes should be asked to do their bit."