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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Calls for second homes tax

Property owners with a second home in Leeds should pay double on their council tax, according to the city’s Liberal Democrats.

The party’s local leader Stewart Golton said the premium, which would target the likes of Airbnbs, would raise £3m a year for cash-strapped public services.

But a white paper on the issue was rejected by the council’s ruling Labour administration, on the basis that such a move is not yet legal.

Legislation which would allow local authorities to do this is going through Parliament, with North Yorkshire County Council having committed to implementing this as soon as they’re able to, which may be as early as next year.

Speaking at a full council debate about the issue on Wednesday, Coun Golton said: “Providing really good effective services can be very expensive.

“It’s our duty to make sure that wherever we can, we maximise the money we have available to deliver good public services on behalf of the people of Leeds.

“This wouldn’t fall on those least able to (pay), because the people  associated with second homes don’t tend to be on the breadline.”

The idea was backed by the council’s Green Party, who said that while the money raised would not undo “13 years” of “brutal” austerity, the council could do “a lot” with the cash.

Leeds’ tourism industry has rebounded strongly following the pandemic, with weekend city breaks having become increasingly fashionable.

But Labour insisted it was “unlawful” to vote in favour the premium without government backing.

Deputy council leader Debra Coupar accused the Lib Dems of “political posturing” before the local elections.

The idea had previously been put forward by the party at last month’s budget meeting, but was rejected then too.

Councillor Coupar said: “What you’re asking for is not legally possible, yet. The legislation needed to implement this is currently at the committee stage of the House of Lords.

“The full detail within the Bill is yet to be determined and it’s yet to be brought forward how it would work.”

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