Proposals which would double the council tax payments for second home owners have been welcomed in west Dorset.

The proposed changes are being discussed by Dorset Council’s Cabinet next week and if they are approved it could bring Dorset Council up to £9.5 million in additional spending power per year.

Bridport councillor Ros Kayes believes that the move to increase the tax for second home owners is something that has been a long time coming.

She said: “I strongly support the increase in council tax for second home owners and they should have done it years ago.

“Some parts of west Dorset have up to 50 per cent of their small homes owned by holidaymakers who only come down once or twice a year. I know it’s a huge problem in Lyme, for example.

“As a result locals – especially young people – are priced out of the market.

“If more two-bedroom homes were available on the open market then there’d be fewer people on the housing register because some of those might be able to afford smaller properties if they were available.

“There are a lot of people locally who wouldn’t need to be on the register if prices weren’t so inflated here – they’d be able to buy in places with cheaper housing – and it’s partly the second home ownership inflating prices.”

There are around 5,700 second home owners in Dorset who could see a hike in their tax payments.

Even if the changes are approved it will not affect holiday homes in the county which are mostly let out on a commercial basis and whose owners pay business rates rather than standard council tax.

Cllr Kayes hoped the new funds from potential tax increases can be used to help local people.

She said: “However – in relation to the council tax in Dorset, I’d also want to see receipts from second home owners ringfenced so they could only be used to fund the building of social rented homes for local people. West Dorset has an appalling record of building affordable homes.

“If the council just uses this money to kick-start house building that will also reduce house prices – a double win which would make a huge difference to the local economy because more young workers could afford to live in the area. It will be tempting for them to use the money just to plug their spending gaps, though.”

The changes are being considered by the council’s Cabinet on Monday – based on the Government’s proposed ‘levelling up’ legislation which has yet to receive royal assent.

Provided the legislation becomes law and the proposal to raise the additional rates payable is backed by a full council meeting, the new charges would be introduced from April 2024.