Cornwall second home owners urged to donate £400 energy rebate | Cornwall


Owners of a second home in Cornwall are being asked to donate their £400 in government energy rebates to poor neighbors facing hardship this winter thanks to a scheme launched on Friday and backed by business leaders, organizations charities and politicians.

Those behind the Donate the Rebate scheme claim that if every second homeowner in Cornwall took part, £5.4million could be redistributed from the ‘super-rich’, who would barely notice the payment, to people who desperately need help in one of the poorest regions of Northern Europe.

The number of people asking for food parcels in parts of Cornwall has increased by 75 per cent in the past 12 months, while 1,500 people are in emergency accommodation and more than 21,000 are on waiting lists for lodging. At the same time property prices continue to rise, inflated by people from other parts of the UK snapping up homes as bolt holes or as investments.

Rob Love, chief executive and co-founder of Crowdfunder, which set up the campaign and is headquartered near the beach in Newquay, North Cornwall, said it was a way to redistribute the money from the “haves to the have-nots”. ”.

Rob Love, co-founder of Crowdfunder. Photography: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

He said: “At times like these, we cannot simply rely on governments, charities or corporations: we need a more effective way to redistribute wealth to those who really need it. . We have to get out of this national emergency and everyone has to play a part. »

Love said he thought the government’s energy bill support scheme was “quite generous”, but added: “It’s not giving all the money to the right people”.

He pointed out that millions of pounds would go to wealthy people – likely including some MPs – who owned properties in Cornish second home hotspots such as Rock, St Ives and St Mawes. “We are not against second homes. We are not angry with them and we do not harass the government. We provide a mechanism that gets the money to the right places.

Second home owners who wish to participate are asked to go to the Donate the Rebate website and specify which Cornish charity they would like their rebate to go to. Love said Cornwall was the obvious place to start, but he hoped to expand the program to other places with lots of second homes.

Monique Collins, director of Disc, a drop-in and sharing center in Newquay, one of the organizations that will benefit from the scheme, said it is currently helping to provide food and pay electricity bills for 98 families and 55 singles – a 75% increase over the same period last year – and she expected that number to double this winter.

“I dread fall and winter,” she says. “We are heading for a disaster. Newquay and places like it have become a playground for the ultra-rich and they have to help.

Disc manager Monique Collins, right, with Harriet and her son Noah.
Disc manager Monique Collins, right, with Harriet and her son Noah. Photography: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

Harriet, 23, who uses Disc, said her situation was “disastrous”. The mother of 15-month-old boy Noah said his electricity bill had tripled since March. “I don’t know what I’m going to do this winter. It can be a choice between food and energy. Already I haven’t been able to do any real grocery shopping since May. I make sure Noah has his food, but then buy bits for myself as I go.

She said she got angry when she walked around Newquay and saw people in luxury second homes. “It’s so unfair. Expensive apartments are being built when we need affordable housing.

Julian German, a Cornwall councilor whose patch includes St Mawes, said: ‘We have an obligation to our struggling neighbors to help them where we can. The poverty that some people face in Cornwall is staggering.

Kim Conchie, chief executive of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: “People shouldn’t have to choose between feeding their families or turning on the heat this winter. We have a fundamental disparity between people who live here and people who have second homes here.

Kim Chonchie, CEO of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.
Kim Chonchie, CEO of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce. Photography: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

He said he believed many people who had visited second homes for years and made connections in the community would donate – but admitted that hard-line investors looking to cash in on a Cornish property might be more difficult to achieve.

“Owners of a second home have a duty if they want to benefit from the wonderful place in which we live and work to contribute. I think it’s a fantastic moment where they can really make a move. One in two owners should do it, to ease their conscience and make a difference.

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