YP Letters: Poorly thought-out homes tax plan will only harm the Dales

Should there be a council tax levy on second homes in the Yorjshire Dales?
Should there be a council tax levy on second homes in the Yorjshire Dales?
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From: Jan and Jeremy Bates, Gunnerside.

NO authority should be given additional tax-raising powers if they carry the risk of irresponsible implementation.

The councillors and officials of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have demonstrated a cavalier approach in suggesting a 500 per cent tax increase on a loosely defined group of owners of second homes – while allowing those defined as holiday lets to pay nothing at all.

Second home owners already make a full contribution to council finances. They are a major source of inward investment, form an important part of many communities, preserve elements of the built environment that would otherwise be lost, impact on the liquidity of the housing market and can help to stem a massive transfer of wealth to private landlords.

They often lead to full-time occupancy, and can be a route to setting up and running businesses. In many cases, they form part of people’s personal retirement provision – in contrast to people such as YDNPA chief executive David Butterworth whose £100,000 salary will entitle him to a handsome public sector pension.

Those involved have failed to undertake any study which would have highlighted the serious financial, social and legal flaws in their proposal. They have also misinterpreted previous major studies which they have referenced. These people should not be in a position of influence and authority.

Until it is made clear that no such powers will be considered, the growing material and social damage will continue, and will gather pace. It may already be too late to undo the reputational damage, and we know of many people who are already cancelling projects. This has already caused untold stress and anxiety in the community which will amplify people’s negative reactions.

The whole focus is entirely wrong. Virtually all the opinion we have seen points to jobs and careers being they key to any revival. The affordability of housing and attraction of city life for young people is not new, and is a national problem.

Parts of the Dales have average prices for smaller homes which are way below the national average and, in some areas, there is evidence that improved facilities such as broadband is already attracting working people.

What is needed is to build on the positives rather than indiscriminately threaten a crushing 500 per cent tax sledgehammer blow.