Dominic Cummings could be forced to pay £50,000 in council tax previously waived by officials

Colin Drury
·2-min read
Johnson’s chief adviser ( )
Johnson’s chief adviser ( )

Dominic Cummings could be forced to pay up to £50,000 in council tax that was previously waived by government officials, the leader of Durham County Council has said.

Backdated tax on two properties on his family farm, built without planning permission in 2002, was written off in a decision by the Valuation Office Agency, an arm of HMRC.

It ruled that Mr Cummings – famed for testing his eyesight by driving to tourist town Barnard Castle – would not be liable for 18 years’ worth of bills. Instead, it said, he could start paying from this month.

The decision sparked local anger, with three local MPs complaining that the decision was “further eroding trust in our laws and regulations.”

Durham County Council’s Labour leader Simon Henig has requested his authority’s financial officers look into appealing the decision, which could see Mr Cummings become liable for backdated tax.

He said: “People will want to know how, once again, the government’s senior adviser is avoiding facing any consequences for breaching a set of regulations to which everyone else is expected to adhere.”

Speaking to Newcastle’s Chronicle newspaper, he added: “As soon as we were aware of a potential breach in regulations, council officers were instructed to investigate the matter.

“In turn, Durham County Council alerted the Valuation Office Agency, which provided details of the required changes in respect to property.

“However, while there have been historical breaches of planning and building control regulation, which date back to the time of the former Durham City Council, the current council was unable to take enforcement action due to the amount of time that had elapsed.

“I have asked that all options to appeal this decision be considered.”

Mr Cummings built his Band A cottages on the farm where his dad lives in the city’s North Lodge area.

Following complaints from members of the public, a planning investigation was launched in June and found “historic breaches of planning and building control regulations”.

In response to the revelation that an appeal was being planned, the VOA said: “We treat all council taxpayers equally and in accordance with the law.

“Changes to show multiple self-contained units would not be backdated. If the property has remained in your ownership during the period when any changes were made there would not typically be backdated liabilities.”

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