Gazette readers have expressed a range of opinions on whether or not the council tax on second homes ought to be doubled.
The plan being put forward to Herefordshire Council’s cabinet hopes to make a dent in the county’s forecast budget shortfalls, as well as freeing up properties for local use.
The approximately 6,900 second homes within the county could generate over £12 million extra council tax revenue under the plan, or more than 10 per cent of the total current council tax revenue this year of £119.5 million.
Gazette reader Craig Anthony Bishop said: “Agree with the second homes bit—if you can afford a second home you can afford this surely. Some people cannot even buy one home let alone two.” Matt McClure, Ben Bundy, and Paul William Hayward all agreed with the prospect saying it was a “great idea”.
Town councillor and former mayor Daniel Lister disagreed, he said: “Personally I don’t agree with it, I don’t own a second home and can’t afford to nor would I want to, but I don’t think this the right step. It’s just creating an even bigger divide between the super rich and those that can’t currently afford a home. Do you think all these spare homes that come to the market for sale—because they will—will then be affordable for all to buy? No the super rich will probably buy them up.”
He added: “Make the financial system fair, allow rents to be cheaper and affordable, put a cap on rents or make home buying better and fair to get more people on the ladder, which would hopefully see more people with more money in the pocket to spend locally.”
Boxer Liam O’hare added that is was a “terrible idea” and called on the council to “stop destroying the middle class”.
Paul Sherwood was sceptical it would be benificial, he said: “All the successful people pack up now, not only do you pay more tax, create jobs; now they want to penalise you even more.”
Carrie Pritchard said: “Why? Just because someone works so hard that they can afford a second home they should be penalised for it? Owning a second home already comes with enough penalties as it is. Also, if these second homes are let then surely the cost would be felt by the tenant too?”
The council already charge a premium on council tax for empty properties. The law has been updated a number of times in recent years. Empty homes attract anti-social behaviour or vandalism and the higher rates is to encourage owners to bring properties back into occupation to minimise these risks.