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Families support new council tax premium on second homes

David and Caroline Harper, who have two children, Phillip, aged nine, and five-year-old Lucy. 

Families have welcomed a decision to introduce a council tax premium on second homes to help to tackle a critical lack of affordable housing that is undermining North Yorkshire’s communities. 

Members of full council have today (Wednesday, 12 February) backed plans to introduce a 100 per cent premium for council tax bills on second homes in the county from April next year. 

The new scheme will effectively double council tax bills for second homeowners and means that North Yorkshire is one of the first areas in the country to progress with adopting the Government’s new measures. 

The policy will be adopted from April 1 next year, given the requirements under the new national legislation to give second homes owners a 12-month period of notice before the charges are applied. 

Council leader, Cllr Carl Les, welcomed the decision at today’s meeting of the full council to agree the council tax premium on second homes, which he claimed will play an important role in helping to provide more affordable housing. 

Cllr Les said: “The need for more affordable housing has long been recognised in North Yorkshire, and we are committed to doing all we can to allow people to live in the places that they wish to. 

“The fact that the county is such a wonderful place to live and work is one of its biggest draws, and as a result this has compounded the issues surrounding affordable housing. 

“We also welcome visitors from across the world every year, and while there needs to be a balance with preserving the visitor economy, the current situation is simply not sustainable. 

“As a council, we are leading the way to become one of the first local authorities to introduce the council tax premium on second homes. It will help to free up homes, and ensure our communities remain sustainable for the future.”

The proposals are ultimately aimed at bringing second homes back into use for local communities after many people have been priced out of the housing market in some of North Yorkshire’s most desirable locations. 

It is also expected that the decision to introduce the premium will provide a multi-million pound boost to finance council priorities, including a central aim to use the funding to help introduce more housing in areas particularly affected by the affordability crisis. 

Executive member for finance, Cllr Gareth Dadd, who is also the authority’s deputy leader, said: “There is an acute shortage of housing for local people in many communities in North Yorkshire, and this has been an issue that has long affected their opportunities to actually buy their own home. 

“Whether it be locations such as the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors or coastal towns such as Scarborough and Whitby, the fact that these are wonderful places to live has heightened these issues. 

“As a council, we are proud of such a forward-thinking scheme to introduce the council tax premium that will ideally see these second homes brought back into use for local people. But if not, then there will be a valuable new revenue stream created that will help fund council priorities, such as helping introduce more housing for local communities.”

Among the couples who have battled to find a home in North Yorkshire are David and Caroline Harper, who have two children, Phillip, aged nine, and five-year-old Lucy. 

David, 37, a teaching assistant, and his 34-year-old wife spent more than four years looking to find a suitable property to live in after they married in 2012. 

They eventually managed to secure a three-bedroom house in the village of Hudswell, near Richmond, where Mr Harper grew up. 

He said: “We did face particular challenges to find a home, as we had always wanted to live near our friends and family in the village where I grew up. 

“It was a difficult housing market then, and it is even worse now to find a suitable property that you can afford.

“We were very fortunate to find the home we are in now, but we can relate to the issues other families are facing, particularly in rural areas of North Yorkshire. 

“The council tax premium on second homes is a crucial new policy and will help to free up houses, and while there is not one single solution, this will undoubtedly help. 

“It is a balancing act as the tourism industry is so important to North Yorkshire, but people deserve the right to be able to live in the communities where they want to.” 

Analysis has shown that the introduction of a 100 per cent premium on council tax bills for second homes in North Yorkshire could generate between £11.5 million and £16.5 million a year in additional revenue. 

The Scarborough area has the potential to bring in almost half of the additional revenue due to the large number of second homes in coastal towns such as Whitby, Scarborough and Filey. 

A lack of affordable housing across North Yorkshire has been a long-running issue, accentuated in many of the county’s rural and coastal locations that are among the most desirable places to live in the country.

There is a high demand for second homes, increasing the strain on an already limited housing stock. According to figures from the National Housing Federation, there are 8,081 second homes in North Yorkshire - the highest number in the Yorkshire and Humber region. 

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