MORE than one in every four homes sold in part of Somerset is a second home, according to government figures.

Data released by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) shows that West Somerset has one of the highest levels of second home purchases in the entire south west.

A total of £92m was spent by homeowners on buying second homes in the district during the last financial year.

West Somerset Council has said it is working with the Exmoor National Park Authority and other partners to deliver homes where they are needed.

HMRC keeps records of every dwelling purchased at a value of £40,000 or higher within a given year, including additional dwellings.

An additional dwelling is defined as any residential property on which stamp duty is paid at the standard rate plus a three per cent levy – and includes second homes and buy-to-let properties.

This levy was introduced by central government in 2016 to deter buy-to-let landlords, property investors and holiday home-owners from buying up additional properties, in a bid to ease the UK housing crisis.

Out of every 100 homes sold within West Somerset in 2017/18, 28 of them – more than one in four – were additional dwellings.

This is the third-highest rate in the entire south west – behind the South Hams in Devon (30 per cent of sales) and Bournemouth (29 per cent) – and the highest in Somerset.

Of the other Somerset districts, Sedgemoor was the closest with 22 per cent of sales – just over one in five sales – followed by South Somerset (19 per cent), Mendip (18 per cent) and Taunton Deane (17 per cent).

While the percentage of second homes sales was high in West Somerset, the number of properties involved and the value thereof was relatively small compared to other parts of Somerset.

South Somerset saw the largest number of additional dwelling sales with 660, followed by Sedgemoor (540), Taunton Deane (490), Mendip (450) and West Somerset (240).

South Somerset also saw the most money spent on additional dwellings, with £156M changing hands over the 12-month period.

Mendip was the next most lucrative market with second homes sales of £131m, followed by Sedgemoor (£113m), Taunton Deane (£109m) and West Somerset (£92m).

West Somerset Council has said it is working with its partners to ensure the market for second homes does not prevent locals from getting onto the property market.

A spokeswoman said: “Along with a number of other local authorities, we were allocated the sum of £574,760 by the then-Department for Communities and Local Government in December 2016 to mitigate against the effects of high second home ownership.

“This community-led housing funding has been ring-fenced, and we are currently working with a number of delivery partners and the Exmoor National Park Authority to deliver schemes in the communities most affected.

“These schemes are for the delivery of affordable housing in small-scale developments in areas where they will make a big difference.”