Business owners in North Yorkshire have shared their views with GB News after the region became England’s first area to adopt a mandatory 100 per cent council tax premium for second homes.
The ground-breaking measure was voted in by the Conservative run North Yorkshire County Council last month as part of efforts to tackle the housing crisis impacting communities across the area.
Councillors hope it will encourage people to sell or rent out their second homes to help local residents struggling to find housing.
Costal towns and villages like the quaint fishing village of Staithes have a larger proportion of second homes or holiday lets than permanent residents.
Keith Gregory owns the business ‘Holidays in Staithes’ and has lived in the village with his partner for the last 20 years.
They rely on tourism and holiday lets and run a team of 14 people that offer a range of cleaning, maintenance, and management services to over 60 properties in Staithes and the surrounding area.
But Keith does not feel that the second home tax will do much to free up property for locals.
“Potentially it will push more people towards having holiday lets than second homes,” he said.
Staithes is home to many small businesses. Image: GB News
“Second homes bring something to the village but they’re not used enough. They need to be used a lot more.
“But saying that, part of the experience for holiday makers coming to Staithes is that they can talk to people that live here and that it’s a real live village.
“People who are wanting to get money into property as second home owners – if it means they get taxed, they can afford to get taxed and I supect most of them will look for loopholes arpund it so I don’t see it making a massive difference to anything.”
Susan Sharrard runs Staithes Gallery which is next to the home that Keith runs his business from. She works there with her artist husband and the pair have previously lived in the village.
She believes that second home owners have a place in Staithes, and that more should be done to target those who own property there as an investment, but who may never have visited.
“The Airbnbs are more of a problem than the second homes because they don’t have to pay any tax, then in a way I think they are the people that should be targeted as they’re the people who are taking the soul from the community”, said Susan.
Image: GB News
“It’s purely business and some of the people who have bought the cottages here may never have visited the village before they bought it and just saw it as an opportunity.”
The Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire coast are among the most desirable places to live in the UK.
But the house prices and number of second homes make it hard for locals to stay in the area or buy property.
According to the county council, the average cost of a property in the Yorkshire Dales is nearly £400,000, while the weekly wage in North Yorkshire is just over £530.
National Housing Federation also show that there are 8,199 second homes in North Yorkshire - the highest number in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Councillor Carl Les, Conservative Council Leader of North Yorkshire County Council told GB News that around £14m will be made from the tax hike, which the council then plan to spend on affordable housing.
“It’s no longer just a problem, it’s a crisis and that’s why we have to take drastic steps to double somebody’s council tax”, he said.
The measure will be introduced from April 2024, should Royal Assent be given to legislation to give local authorities extra powers.