Rather than support businesses across Cornwall and on Scilly I see that Cllr Andrew George has once again seized on the opportunity of using this horrible pandemic for some political point scoring.
And he is deliberately misleading his followers or has not taken five minutes to read the Government website when he claims that second home owners are being given a grant of £6,000. The website clearly says, ‘the government is introducing a new grant scheme to support businesses that are experiencing difficulties because of the Omicron variant, and the dual impact of staff absences and lower consumer demand.’ It goes on to say ‘Recipients must be solvent businesses, and ratepayers in the hospitality and leisure sector. For example, a pub; hotel; restaurant; bar; cinema; or amusement park.’
Accommodation can be included but it must be a registered business and must demonstrate that it was impacted by the omicron variant.
There are problems with Cllr George’s claims. He says a second home will be given £6K. The award of £6K only applies to businesses of a rateable value of £51K or over. In other words a large pub or hotel and possibly a sizeable holiday let in an exclusive location. Another problem, which he and Lib-Dems conveniently overlook, is that an owner of a private second home or ‘bolt hole’ is breaking the law if the property is registered as a business. There is no legal route to receive a grant and the guidance continues to be clear - again I quote ‘ The government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud. Any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be recovered, as may any grants paid in error. LAs are responsible and accountable for the lawful use of funds and must be satisfied that all eligibility conditions have been fully complied with. To do this, LAs will be expected to undertake a Fraud Risk Assessment.’
To summarise a second home owner can not legally claim a grant of any amount and a holiday let only qualifies if it is a registered business and can demonstrate that the business has suffered due to the omicron variant and the dual impact of staff absences and lower consumer demand. For businesses that are eligible (and I am aware of a number including pubs who saw Christmas events and gatherings cancelled at very late notice) the amount paid is varied by rateable value (RV) of each eligible premises, in three bands: £0-15k (will receive £2.7K); £15-51k (will receive £4K); and over £51k (will receive £6K).
I’m glad of the opportunity to welcome these grants and put the record straight. I take a more positive approach on housing recently calling on the Government to introduce a licensing system for homes that people want to switch to a second home or holiday let and to restrict all new homes to primary residence only. This is a much more constructive approach to help provide the homes local families need.