Second homes can bring significant benefits to local areas, including boosting tourism, consumer spending and investment in the local economy. However, we are aware of the need to balance this with the housing needs of local people. We have taken decisive action to address these challenges through the introduction of a stamp duty surcharge on second homes.
Excessive second home ownership robs communities of life, schools and other services. Does the Minister understand, then, why people in the south Lakes are so appalled that the Government have chosen to give a £15,000 stamp duty bonus to those lucky enough to be able to afford a second home? When there are 3 million hard-working people excluded from Government support at the moment, are these not appalling priorities? Will he end the second homes bonus and instead support the 3 million excluded?
Second home owners contribute significantly to the economy of many parts of our country, particularly those parts that rely on the tourist economy. I remind the hon. Gentleman that, in 2013, we removed the requirement to offer a council tax discount on second homes, and 95% of the 253,000 second home dwellings now have council tax applied to them. It is very important that we balance the needs of the local economy with the rights of local people. We think we have got that balance right as we try to get this country through a very difficult epidemic, and every penny spent locally matters to local businesses and people.