Labour tax on holiday homes 'will help Yorkshire Dales', says Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey

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Plans for a tax on thousands of holiday homes in Yorkshire and Humber will “take the heat out of the market” in places like the Dales and help young people on to the housing ladder, Labour has said.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said the levy would raise £560m a year to help families without a home of their own who live in hostel-type accommodation around the country.

But he said the cooling effect it could have on the housing market in places like the Yorkshire Dales could help young people who struggle to afford a home of their own in their local area.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) in principle supports action on second homes, arguing they have weakened local communities.

But proposals for tax hikes were abandoned earlier this year amid opposition from Richmondshire Council.

South Yorkshire MP Mr Healey told reporters at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool: “It may be in an area like the Yorkshire Dales that this takes some of the heat out of the housing market.

“It may help, it won’t on its own solve the problems, but it may help alongside the other planks that we’ve got in this Housing For The Many plan, it may help local young people get a better chance of living in the area they have grown up in.”

He added: “I don’t say it’s going to force people to sell up, it just may make people pause for thought, it may take some of the heat out of the housing market in areas like the Yorkshire Dales.”

Labour estimates there are 250,000 second homes that are not rented out nationally, up to 174,000 of which are holiday homes, while the remainder are used, for example, by people who work in a different city to where they live and who would not face the levy.

There are 18,422 second homes in Yorkshire and Humber used either as holiday homes or for employment purposes, although Labour said it cannot estimate exactly how many are used solely for vacations.

Any of those properties used as holiday homes would be hit by Labour’s levy to help the 120,000 children in families who live in temporary accommodation around the country.

In Yorkshire and Humber, 870 families are estimated to live in temporary accommodation, compared to 54,540 in London or 2,560 in the North West.

Mr Healey said it was only fair that “those who have done well out of the housing market should pay back to those with no home at all”.

The YDNPA could not comment on Labour’s specific plans without seeing the detail but said they showed the importance of the issue.

But a spokesman said: “When the idea to pilot higher council tax for second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was killed off earlier this year, we said the issue would not go away.

“Labour’s proposals suggest that on that point at least we were right.

“We would support, in principle, action on second homes through planning control, taxation or other means.”

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, said he could support plans to tax holiday homes in areas that have been particularly badly affected but said a blanket policy would be “impossible” to enforce.

He added: “And why should someone who has saved up and prioritised and aspired to buying a second home be penalised?”