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MP calls for end to grant scheme abusers in Suffolk

A Suffolk MP has urged the Government to remove a loophole that allows second homeowners to abuse a coronavirus grant scheme.

Residents in the county, which contains a significantly high number of second homes, have voiced their concerns at some homeowners exploiting a business rates loophole – by listing their properties as holiday homes.

In doing so, they can avoid paying any council tax or business rates, while they are also free to claim relief through a coronavirus grant scheme.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: “Suffolk is a beautiful county – it’s no wonder then that so many people choose to have a second home here. Yet homeowners who are abusing the system are still free to claim relief under the Government’s coronavirus grant schemes.

“Quite rightly, this is causing great concern amongst many of my constituents who have contacted me, as well as the district councils which are charged with administering the government grants.”

Current legislation allows people with second homes to legitimately de-register their property from council tax and apply to have it included in the non-domestic ratings list as a holiday let business.

In order to qualify for the non-domestic ratings, second homeowners must confirm that the property is available for let for a minimum of 140 days per annum, but there is no requirement for them to provide any evidence of this.

However, if a property on the non-domestic ratings has a rateable value of less than £15,000, they are also exempt from business rates, meaning district councils that contain a large number of second homes – such as those in Suffolk and Norfolk – lose out on a significant source of income.

Dr Poulter added: “The majority of second homeowners are hard-working members of our community who follow the rules, but there’s a number of others that appear to be exploiting a loophole in the current legislation.”

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