Thursday, 14 February 2013

The scandal of the second home water subsidy

Credit to the Western Morning News and their journalist Phil Godwin on uncovering the fact that the water rebate will also apply to second homes. As a further kick in the teeth to ordinary people the rebate will not apply to small businesses where owners live in the property of business. The story is in todays WMN and the preview here online.

I'm staggered frankly that this is happening. We were told the water rebate was to help one of the poorest parts of the UK pay the highest water rates in the UK. Whether this situation has come about by poor legislation, scrutiny and forethought which is likely or another policy for the rich and big business (like the 50p tax rate cut and corporation tax falling) is unclear. What is patently clear is that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat flagship policy here will exasperate existing problems for small business owners and provide  subsidy for second (and third etc) home owners. I await eagerly the opinion of Cornwall's MPs and whether they feel they should've scrutinised the detail of this legislation or perhaps it'll be revealed that they're happy about this.

It appears that the policy has crudely identified ordinary houses worthy of the rebate and businesses unworthy. This ignores the fact there are thousands of small businesses in Cornwall and many of these are dwellings for the owners too. Shops, post offices, pubs, workshops etc. I find it hard to believe that neither coalition partner is aware of this fact. Aware of the fact that small business owners are getting squeezed already in this flat lining economy and deserve a little help as much as the rest of us. For years both Tories and Lib Dems have courted small business owners and tried to paint themselves as on their side. Yet like students and other groups in soceity they're left wondering where these election promises went.

In a previous blog I questioned whether such a profit intensive business should protect profits and have the public purse raided to make bills fairer. Now I despair that second home owners will also get subsidised water rates and as the WMN points out those most unused properties may well even now pay no rates at all.  There are 13,458 holiday homes in Cornwall when public services are being cut left and centre, you have to wonder what's being sacrificed, what funding is being raided to pay the £673,000 water rebate to Cornwall's part time residents.