Kamis, 21 Maret 2013

Has the Chancellor set up a subsidy scheme for second homes?

Has the Chancellor miscalculated with one of his personal schemes announced in yesterday's budget? George Osborne announced state funding for people who buy newly built houses - a measure that he said would stimulate the building industry as well as provide more homes.

But it seems that Mr Osborne has failed to include rules which would prevent these new houses being bought as second homes. In effect, we could be seeing a subsidy for people to buy second homes in Cornwall.

Liberal Democrats have worked hard in Cornwall to close the loopholes that give unfair advantages to second home owners. The council has ended the second home council tax discount and we want to make owners apply for change of use permission before they can turn a house into a second home. Liberal Democrats have made affordable homes for local people one of our top priorities. Cornwall cannot afford for Mr Osborne to undo all this hard work and so we need him to be clear that his new scheme will not subsidise second homes.

Yesterday's budget also had a number of good wins for the Liberal Democrats. Among them was the announcement that the income tax threshold would rise to £10,000 - and that this would happen a year ahead of schedule. That promise was on the front page of the Lib Dem manifesto at the last election and will mean that, from April next year, more than 2.6 million people won't be paying any income tax and millions more will have a £700 tax cut.

Other wins included the announcement on child care cost support to help more parents go out to work and which could be worth up to £1200. Also in the budget was the abolition of the beer duty escalator which saw tax go up by 2% more than inflation each year. And in addition there will be an extra penny off a pint. That's a win for Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland who has led the campaign to abolish it. It's also a win for local brewers like St Austell, Skinners and Sharps.

It would be a shame if all this good work was overwhelmed in the public mind by an ill-defined policy on new homes.

The Western Morning News has the story here.

UPDATE - ITN's Finance correspondent Laura Kuenssberg has tweeted: Lib dem source on Mortgage guarantee for second homes - 'we will not allow this to happen'

And World At One editor Nick Sutton tweets: Housing Minister Mark Prisk on #wato says purchasers would have to make a legal declaration they weren't buying second home.

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