Second home owners in Dorset ‘are likely to twice pocket a £400 cost of living grant’

Thousands of second home owners in Dorset are likely to pocket the government’s £400 cost of living grant – while recouping the same amount on their primary residence. The latest figures show almost 11,000 second homes in Dorset Council and the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole areas.

Between them, these homeowners could get more than £4.3million in government payments on their second homes. Dorset Council estimates that there are around 5,726 second homes in the county, although there could be many more, run as businesses to let holidaymakers.

In the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area, the council said it had 5,147 properties registered as second homes for council tax purposes in autumn last year. Just on the second home figures, payments in Dorset for second home owners will be £2.29m with an additional £2.05m for BCP second homes.

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Those that are run as a business and registered as such have likely already benefited from additional government subsidies during the Covid crisis and reduced business tariffs. Under government rules in October, each of the second homes will get a £400 cut on their fuel bills without having to apply.

Dorset Council’s website says it does not offer council tax reduction for furnished second homes, although if a property is unfurnished and unoccupied for less than a month, a 100% reduction on council tax applies, but only for one month over a two-year period. To try to encourage owners to rent or sell vacant properties, the municipality has, since April 2019, doubled the amount of housing tax to be paid on empty accommodation; tripled from April 2020 for properties vacant between five and 10 years and quadrupled the residence tax payments from the same date for properties vacant for 10 years or more.

BCP Council Leader Cllr Drew Mellor said he would support a decision to charge a 200% council tax on second homes in the area and would welcome debate and discussion among councilors before taking action. a formal decision.

“The government is effectively saying this is particularly relevant in areas like ours, Cornwall and other attractive destinations, locals are being shut out of the market due to the abundance of second home owners,” Cllr Mellor said.

For someone in the most expensive category with an ‘average’ sized long-term vacant property in Dorset, unless other exemptions apply, they could find themselves paying around £8,000 or more per year in housing tax. All households in the UK, regardless of their standard of living, are set to receive the £400 help with energy bills this autumn, along with a previously announced £150 council tax refund which only applies to lower AD tax brackets.

The government has also announced a separate £300 payment for pensioners and a £150 payment for disabled people, both of which can be paid in addition to the £650 cost of living payment for those who qualify. The government says this means millions of vulnerable families will receive at least £1,200 in support this year.

Three towns in Dorset recently made it into a national top 20 list for holiday home ownership; Weymouth, Lyme Regis and Bournemouth with many communities in the Purbecks and parts of West Dorset now having over a quarter of all properties held as second homes or as a holiday business.

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