FALMOUTH and Truro MP Cherilyn Mackrory says she welcomes a positive result after campaign to close second home tax loophole.

The Government says it is closing the controversial loophole that allowed some second home owners to get out of paying any rates at all on properties inaccurately registered as businesses.

But the move has been condemned by the leader of the Labour group on Cornwall Council who say it changes nothing and that second home owners will still able to avoid paying council tax.

Currently, owners of second homes in England can avoid paying council tax and access small business rates relief by simply declaring an intention to let the property out to holidaymakers.

However, concerns have been raised that many never actually let their homes and leave them empty and are therefore unfairly benefitting from the tax break.

Following consultation, the government will now bring changes to the tax system, which will mean second homeowners must pay council tax if they are not genuine holiday lets.

From April 2023, second homeowners will have to prove holiday lets are being rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year to access small business rates relief, where they meet the criteria.

Holiday let owners will have to provide evidence such as the website or brochure used to advertise the property, letting details and receipts.

Properties will also have to be available to be rented out for 140 days a year to qualify for this relief.

Mrs Mackrory said:“I care passionately about ensuring our housing crisis in Cornwall is addressed, and one of the things I have campaigned on since the time I was a Cornwall Councillor is addressing the unfair loophole that some people exploited to avoid paying rates on their second homes.”

“Today’s [Friday's] announcement by the Government helps address this and is a good step forward.

"There is a lot more to do though, and I will be working with my Cornish MP colleagues and Cornwall Council to continue to press the case for more powers for Cornwall Council to ensure second homes do not continue to negatively impact on our communities here in Cornwall.”

But leader of the Labour group on Cornwall Council, and Falmouth town councillor, Jayne Kirkham condemned the move saying a second home owner will only have to prove they let their property out for 70 days/ten weeks per year to be able to register it as a business and get out of paying council tax.

"They will still need to make it ‘available to let’ for 140 days, but only actually let it out for 70 days," she said.

"Renting your second home out for ten weeks per year isn’t enough to make it a genuine, primary business! Why can’t they just pay (double) council tax?

"It also means that people who rent their second homes out for ten weeks per year would still be entitled to Covid business grants."

"This isn’t shutting a loophole. It’s just enabling it."