Council leader calls on government not to pay coronavirus business grants to second home owners

Dyfrig Siencyn

The leader of Gwynedd Council has called on the Welsh Government to change their guidelines so that owners of second homes do not have access to business support grants of up to £25,000.

There is concern that second home owners who have deliberately converted to business rates to avoid paying taxes can apply for the financial support announced by the government following the development of Covid-19.

Gwynedd Council’s Leader, Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, said he had contacted the Minister, Julie James, to highlight the fact that it is unethical that wealthy second home owners who have cynically played the system have access to the public purse to line their own pockets.

In Gwynedd alone it is estimated that between £15m and £18m could be made available to second home owners through the loophole in the financial support package for small businesses from the Welsh Government.

“It is unethical that wealthy individuals who own second homes have access to this financial aid package from the Government,” Dyfrig Siencyn said.

“It goes against the whole ethos of the support aid, a package to ensure a viable economy in an uneconomic period due to this disease outbreak that is spreading through the country.

“This grant should assist small rural businesses in Gwynedd that have been directly affected by Government laws that prevent companies and businesses from trading. That is the reason I have asked Gwynedd Council’s legal department to look at a specific clause within the business guidelines, so that it differentiates between a legitimate rural business and second home owners.”

 

‘Legitimate’

Leaders of other county councils across Wales are supporting Gwynedd’s calls, including Anglesey, Conwy, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire county councils, where a high number of second homes exist. Numerous discussions have also taken place within the Welsh Local Government Association in recent days.

“We welcome the response of the Minister, Julie James, within this debate. It has been positive and constructive. But unfortunately, civil servants are dragging their feet with the details,” according to Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn.

The business note guidance Gwynedd has submitted to the Welsh Government states: “In relation to self-catering accommodation, a business will not be eligible for the grant if the property was at any time, since 1st April 2010, a domestic dwelling.

“However, self catering accommodation will be eligible for the grant if the property has a specific planning permission for such use. Evidence of planning permission must be submitted to support the application for the grant if requested by the administering authority.”

Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn said: “By adding this clause to the business guide it would omit those who have let their second home for a period to avoid paying Council Tax, from receiving the grant, but at the at the same time, ensure that those legitimate businesses that have converted a dwelling into a business, receive it.

“We look forward to receiving the formal response of Welsh Local Government Minister, Julie James today. We hope she will offer a crystal clear guidance to the business support, should any county council face a legal challenge, from these wealthy second home owners.”

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j humphrys
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j humphrys

Time to rid ourselves of this dumb assed Labour Gov. and it’s huge third sector milking shed.
One example is ample; 48 different organisations “for the homeless” in a country of 3 million!

Helen Lewis
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Helen Lewis

No second home owners should get relief business or not. They have an asset which will remain. That’s enough.

Dafydd Jones
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Dafydd Jones

At the same time, small bed and breakfast owners who have been forced to close are not getting a penny of relief grants as they legitimately pay domestic rates and not business rates and are therefore don’t qualify for support grants. Local governments are currently not using the discretion that they have to make payments to small bed and breakfast businesses that are complying with the enforced closure.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Good point Dafydd. Real need is often overlooked while spongers enjoy that to which they shouldn’t have access.

Wrexhamian
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Wrexhamian

Full marks to Councilor Siencyn.

I feel it in my water that the polite tolerance of holiday homes by the Welsh will have been permanently reduced to a minimum as a result of their owners’ cavalier attitude to public health in the ‘tourist’ areas. The myth that tourism is economically beneficial to Wales is gradually being eroded, but the onus is now on the WAG (once Covid-19 has been defeated) to help to boost local economies so that such areas can free themselves of this pointless dependency on mass tourism.

Wrexhamian
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Wrexhamian

…Should have added that there will always be room for the kind of Welsh-owned B&B that Dafydd Jones refers to above. For starters, the income generated stays in this country. But tourism needs to be manged so that it stays in perspective. Right now, it’s virtually all we’ve got in some areas, and that’s unacceptable.

Asa
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Asa

I think that all second home owners should give up their privilege and be forced to house e.g North African or Middle Eastern asylum applicants.

These people have suffered incredible hardship and discrimination in their lives.

Thousands of these second homes in beautiful locations are available to change lives of people fleeing poverty, violence etc. Give these new households the £10k to get them started in their new life in some of the warmest communities in the UK. Xxx

Zeu
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Zeu

Excellent idea, but the backlash would be even greater. It is inherently racist and tribal but would never want to give that appearance.

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

Cymru is not in a position to be a ‘nation of sanctuary’. It is the poorest country in Western Europe. It also has a fragile cultural infrastructure thanks to constant anglicisation through mass media and demographic change. Holiday homes have played their part in this damage, and it’s right thant we should now be thinking of ways to bring it to an end and protect Welsh-speaking areas. We have to put locals first; this means a Jersey-style house-sale policy sanctioned by Cardiff Bay and enshrined in Welsh law.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Yes, yes and yes. But maybe letting real foreigners occupy these homes rather than the shower from over the Clawdd might be a catalyst for change. However our new occupants would need to realise that being in Wales is meant to be a bit different to being in England/UK, aspiring Brits need to move eastwards !. I wouldn’t force language on them but would recommend a softy softly approach aimed at creating awareness of identity and welcome them to adopt that identity. Join our tribe, we still know how to be welcoming.

peter
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peter

HOLIDAY HOMES, In most villages throughout the country coastline, Property comes up on the market for sale locals who have lived there all their lives don’t have a chance of buying it’s up for the highest buyer, I have seen this myself in Benllech property was valued at 200 k due to location and put on internet web site on a Monday morning later that morning the owner was told he got his price, buy the end of the day other offers came in a cash buyer 275 k from away purchased it now a holiday home.