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Council to be quizzed over council tax exemptions as second home owners warn of ‘abject misery’

06 May 2024 3 minute read
Over 60% of the properties in Little Haven in Pembrokeshire are second homes lets. Photo by Russ Hamer is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter

A council which recently brought in a 200 per cent premium for second home will be quizzed on the number of people seeking council tax exemptions at a meeting later this week.

Pembrokeshire Council had been operating a 100 per cent council tax premium for second homes, effectively a double rate, along with a 25-100 per cent premium for empty properties, depending on the length of vacancy.

However, in December councillors backed a 200 per cent council tax premium, effectively a treble rate, for second homes, and sliding scale system for empty properties of between 100 and 300 per cent premium.

Since that rise, effective from the start of this financial year, second home-owners have been faced with hefty council tax bills, as much as £11,000 in some cases, with some even contemplating suicide, according to a support group.

Suicide

At the council meeting on 9 May, Martletwy county councillor, and Conservative group leader of the council, Cllr Di Clements will ask: “Can the Cabinet member for Finance [Cllr Alec Cormack] please provide me with the number of properties that have applied for a council tax exemption since the delivery of this year’s council tax bill?

“This should be split out by properties that were charged a second homes premium and properties which were not charged a second homes premium.”

Cllr Cormack is expected to provide an answer at that meeting.

‘Abject misery’

Pembrokeshire Second Homes Support Group, run by Chris Morgan, formerly of Pembroke Dock and Siân Evans of Cardiff, was formed it says,“from a need to inform reassure and assist members to cope with the latest increase in the council tax second homes premium from 100 per cent to 200 per cent”.

They group previously said: “As the council tax demands for 2024-25 arrive, we have discovered massive increases. Typical council tax bills are running between £5,000 and £11,000. We believe that in the extensive meetings and debate concerning the 2024-2025 budget, the effect of these premiums on those paying them has been overlooked.”

In a message to councillors, the group said: “We have been disregarded in this matter, despite the fact that your budget relies on us. Being the lowest council tax in the land seems to be the goal, but at our expense.”

On the issue of the premium rise, Mr Morgan said: “The picture of abject misery and hardship is unfolding as we speak with at least one so-called second home-owner contemplating suicide.

“These are not Rachman types caught up in this, but ordinary folk committed to our county and of long standing. More often than not, like myself, part of the diaspora.”


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June Davies
June Davies
20 days ago

Gosh, the brass neck of people who own a second home during a housing crisis and claim of “abject misery and hardship”. I feel sorry for people who may have to give up a lifestyle they enjoy, but a second home is a luxury, not a right. Can you really take the moral high ground as a second home owner, while young people are routinely forced out of their communities and away from their friends and families because there’s simply nowhere affordable left to live? Second homes aren’t being targeted due to malice or the politics of envy, they’re being… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
20 days ago
Reply to  June Davies

There is a degree of malice among some of the rich who have a stuff the locals attitude. Sadly there is also an element of malice among some of the protesters.

Gaynor
Gaynor
20 days ago
Reply to  June Davies

They could always rent their properties out at a fair rent to local families for long term housing and a stable income. More people have actually killed themselves as a result of benefit cuts and long term homelessness, I suspect. However it is a bit of a blunt instrument, and does have a negative effect on people who run a business from their farm etc.How about introducing a compulsory AIRBnb census and ensuring that planning permission is required and a total ban on them if they reach a certain threshold within local gov wards?

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
20 days ago
Reply to  June Davies

There is not a housing crisis, there is an affordability crisis combined with the governments war on private landlords egged on by organisations such as shelter and sadly a lack of well paid jobs and opportunities in local areas.

Stevie B
Stevie B
20 days ago

The real issue here is a lack of well paid jobs in Pembrokeshire. Also, second home owners are part of a ‘smokescreen’ to draw peoples’ attention away from the lack of new affordable homes being built. Finally, local authorities are using second home council tax premiums to offset cuts to their budget from Tory austerity.

Dave Jones
Dave Jones
20 days ago

I blame second home owners for climate change.

Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
20 days ago

Is anyone willing to argue that the second-homers of Pembrokeshire are in the same level of “abject misery and hardship” as people in Gaza?

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
20 days ago

Oh boo hoo, my heart bleeds, not!

‘Abject misery” of second (third, fourth…) home owners means the policy is working as it is meant, to reduce their number so more become homes that are desperately needed!

So, long may the “abject misery” continue!

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
19 days ago

What I cannot understand is why anyone would want to buy a second home in Wales.

Arthur
Arthur
19 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

It is a mistaken belief that very many are bought by outsiders. Very many are simply family homes with the individuals having to move from the area to secure work and wish to retain the family home. The most important issue in West Wales is lack of well paid jobs – and these are becoming fewer and fewer.

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