Cornwall points to Wales’ moves to tackle second homes as way forward in devolution call
A Cornish politician has said that Wales’ move to tackle second homes shows how further devolution could benefit Cornwall.
Last week the Welsh Government announced that the maximum tax hike on second homes is set to be raised to a whopping 300%.
A Conference on Cornwall event this weekend will discuss how the historic Celtic nation can move forward in securing further autonomy and what kind of powers might be needed.
Cornwall was one of the first areas to secure a devolution deal in 2015 and it remains the only non-metropolitan area with devolved powers outside Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But there have been calls for further devolution since then.
Mebyon Kernow leader Dick Cole told Cornish Stuff that greater charges on second homes now being allowed in Wales shows the benefit of devolution.
“This change has come about because of a co-operation agreement between the Welsh Government and the political party, Plaid Cymru, and because they wish to tackle the devastating impact of ‘second homes’ on many communities in north and west Wales,” he said.
“But these new measures are only happening because the people of Wales achieved devolution and have their own Parliament. The people of Cornwall need the powers to make similar decisions and for that we also need devolution.
“With the publication of the UK Government’s latest thoughts on ‘devolution’ in their ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper, now is an important time for the people of Cornwall to say what we want in terms of greater powers.”
The move to raise the maximum tax hike on second homes in Wales is to tackle the negative impact vacant houses, holiday lets and soaring property prices are having on local communities, the Welsh Government said.
It is part of a series of measures set out in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
Councils across Wales will be able set the premium at any level up to the maximum, from April 2023. The maximum premium councils can charge at the moment is 100%, which means the new measure could lead to a possible tax rise of 200%.
It will be possible to apply different rates for second homes and long-term empty dwellings.
The calls for more powers in Cornwall come after a report last year by a think tank called for “real devolution” to Cornwall – including the ability to raise tax on second homes.
It was clear that Cornwall has now outgrown its original devolution deal, the Institute of Public Policy Research said.
The report says that “real devolution must come with the powers for areas like Cornwall to flex their economic muscles differently depending on local circumstances and drawing upon the expertise and knowledge of local practitioners and leaders”.
“In a time of crisis and uncertainty, it is Cornish businesses, communities, civil society organisations and local government that have led the response and in the coming months and year, will lead the recovery.
“Real long-term devolution of powers and resources for Cornwall, enacted in parliament, would turbocharge these efforts and make a significant contribution to the national effort to build back better.”
They suggest that a new deal, as a minimum, should include:
- Fiscal devolution including the ability to tax second homes, retain 1 per cent of VAT in the visitor economy and retain 100 per cent of business rates. There is also interest in the development of a VAT escalator scheme to incentivise VAT registration.
- Devolved allocation of £700m UK Shared Prosperity Fund investment for Cornwall to manage and distribute based on local rather than national priorities.
- Devolved allocation of a multi-year adult education and skills budget with flexibility to deliver these services to meet local needs and priorities.
- A pilot for devolution to support the natural environment, giving Cornwall local control over the environmental powers and resources to deliver its Local Nature Recovery Strategy, to build sustainable responses to the climate and ecological crisis.
- Pilot schemes of innovative responses to health and social care in a rural context. Having introduced the award-winning Tri-Service Safety Officers, bringing together fire, police and ambulance emergency response roles
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