Date Published 19 November 2012
Local councils should be given the power to compulsorily purchase second homes that are used for only a few weeks a year.
The call has come from trade union GMB, which says that authorities should be given new powers to levy taxes on ‘under-used’ holiday homes and also be able to compulsory purchase them in areas with acute housing need.
The call follows the publication last month of the 2011 Census returns which showed that there were 173,276 residents with a holiday home in the UK. According to the Census, 165,095 residents had a holiday home within England and Wales, and 8,181 residents with one in Scotland or Northern Ireland.??In the South-West region there were a total of 40,030 holiday homes, the highest number for any region in the UK. Of these, 31,849 owners normally live outside the region. Next came Wales with 28,590.
Paul Kenny, GMB regional secretary, said: `In many areas urgent action is needed to ascertain if properties used as holiday homes are actually in use at all. A holiday home that is only used for a few weeks a year is very different to a holiday home that is occupied for most of the year in terms of its economic benefits to any locality.
`A holiday home that is used only a few weeks a year at a time when there are families in bed and breakfast accommodation gives rise to fundamental questions on the role and power of the local authority on the use of residential property in its area.??`GMB consider that, under the Localism Act, local councils should have the power to levy taxation on under-used holiday homes and other empty properties.
`In areas with acute housing need, the question should be able to the raised in the council chamber as to whether under-used houses should be subject to compulsory purchase.`