Owners of holiday homes could face a new £560 million tax bill under new proposals set out by Labour.
The new levy, announced by shadow housing secretary John Healey, aims to tackle homelessness that “shames us all”.
The proposals aim to put a brake on the growing gap between Britain’s “housing ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ and ensure that those who have done well out of the housing market do not leave behind those with no home at all”.
The proposals would see owners of second homes that are used as holiday rentals face an average tax bill of around £3,200 – based on the value of the property and equating to double typical current council tax rates.
According to figures produced by Labour, there are around 174,000 holiday homes that sit empty for most of the year that could be subject to its proposed levy, while 80,000 families are homeless in the UK.
While Polly Neate, chief executive of homeless charity Shelter welcomes the proposals, saying: “Our housing crisis has reached such depths that tens of thousands of families are being tipped into homelessness and forced to live in temporary accommodation. This scandal must be addressed, so it’s good to see this proposal to fund vital homelessness support services.”
However, she says that more needs to done to tackle the the root causes of homelessness including the lack of social homes.
“It’s crucial that we build the social homes this country needs - and that’s why Shelter has launched its own commission into the role of social housing fronted by political figures of all stripes, including leading Labour names Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Ed Miliband MP and Faiza Shaheen,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Labour’s proposals have received a mixed response on Twitter.
Darren Smith tweets: “Second home owners already pay increased stamp duty and if they receive rental income are also likely to pay high rates in tax each year on that. Yet you want more tax… all this will do is increase rental prices, making it impossible for people to save for their own home.”
Lee Kynaston posts: “People with second homes did not cause homelessness. Successive govts [sic] – including Labour – who wilfully ignored the housing crisis, neglected to build affordable homes and did not bother to invest in social housing did. This is buck passing on a spectacular level.”
But others welcome the news, with Rosie Rogers tweeting: “Look at beautiful seaside towns in Cornwall and Wales. Property is overwhelmingly expensive and local people who should be living in these homes are driven out by 'second home's owners. I use the term second home loosely as in reality they are not homes.
Amy Johnson adds: “”Big commitments from Labour to end rough sleeping within a parliament. Massively needed, tough to make a reality.”