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Donate the Rebate: Crowdfunder campaign urges London’s second home owners to donate their extra £400 energy grant

·3-min read
Some 9.6 million homes across the UK expected to fall into fuel stress – spending 10 per cent or more of their post-tax income on energy bills – this winter  (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Some 9.6 million homes across the UK expected to fall into fuel stress – spending 10 per cent or more of their post-tax income on energy bills – this winter (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Campaigners are calling for the UK’s 495,000 second home owners to donate their extra £400 energy grants – totalling £198 million – to help those struggling with the cost of living crisis, with plans for a London-focused #DonateTheRebate campaign to be live by the autumn.

The government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme will see every household in the UK receive at least £400 to help them pay their bills, regardless of wealth or income, meaning second home owners will receive the grant for every property they own.

Two national and Cornwall-centred #DonateTheRebate campaigns, launched last Friday by crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder to coincide with Ofgem’s announcement that the typical household energy bill will rise by 80 per cent to hit £3,549 a year from 1 October, are already gaining momentum, with donations being transferred to local poverty organisations.

Predictably, Cornwall has the most second homes in the UK with nearly 13,500 properties, but second home purchases accounted for 29 per cent of all house sales in London last year, compared to 23 per cent for the rest of England, according to Octane Capital.

Kensington and Chelsea had the most active second home market, with 1,200 second home purchases making up 52 per cent of the west London borough’s market activity. It now has nearly 8,000 second homes — the next most in the UK after Cornwall.

Cornwall, which is one of the most deprived areas in Northern Europe, has seen a 75 per cent increase in families seeking food parcels. Over 21,000 people are on the council’s housing waiting list and 1,500 are in emergency accommodation.

Many families face a harrowing choice between heating and eating this winter, which is why Cornish business leaders, charities and residents are encouraging the county’s thousands of second home owners — and indeed anyone who can afford it — to donate their additional grant and look after the impoverished communities on their doorstep.

Rob Love, CEO and co-founder of Cornwall-based Crowdfunder, said: “In times like these, we can’t just rely on governments, charities or corporations; we need a more efficient way to redistribute wealth to those who really need it.

“Our #DonateTheRebate campaign represents a ‘levelling up’ for and by the people. We’re starting at home in Cornwall, before all of our welcome tourists and second home owners disappear ‘up country’ once more.

“But looking forward, we want this to be a template for London and the rest of the country; it’s a simple mechanism that gets the money to the right places.”

Rob Love, CEO and co-founder of Crowdfunder, plans to bring the #DonateTheRebate campaign to London (Crowdfunder)
Rob Love, CEO and co-founder of Crowdfunder, plans to bring the #DonateTheRebate campaign to London (Crowdfunder)

Steve and Lesley, who own a second home on the Rame Peninsula in south-east Cornwall, are donating their additional £400 energy grant to #DonateTheRebate.

They said: “We are lucky enough to own a second home in Cornwall and can support this brilliant concept by contributing some of the government money that we receive to those who have the greatest need.

“We pride ourselves on being a country that makes charitable contributions across the world but now, as never before, we need to look a little closer to home and understand what is happening in our own back garden.”

Of course, sadly, the cost of living crisis spreads much further than Cornwall, with 9.6 million homes across the UK expected to fall into fuel stress – spending 10 per cent or more of their post-tax income on energy bills – once the energy cap rises.

Former chancellor and Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak, who along with his wife Akshata Murty is worth £730 million, has already pledged to donate the £1,200 he will receive for his three UK properties.