Councillors approve review of tax hike on second homes
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Council tax premiums for second home owners in Flintshire are set to be reviewed in bid to address a housing shortage.
Flintshire Council currently charges a premium of 50 per cent on second homes and long term empty properties to encourage owners to bring them back into use.
A total of 772 properties in the county are subject to the charge, according to the latest figures, including 605 classed as being empty for a long period of time and 167 second homes.
The scheme has earned the local authority almost £650,000 a year in extra income since it was introduced in 2017.
With levels kept the same since the levy was brought in, senior councillors have now backed a review of the premium.
The council’s chief governance officer said it could see the amount increased, kept the same or even reduced.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting held yesterday (Tuesday, September 21), Gareth Owens said: “The power that we have is principally intended to help address the problem of long-term empty properties.
“We’ve got relatively large numbers of smaller properties that are empty that could usefully be brought back into occupation.
“Changing the premium might be a way to help achieve that or it might be one tool to help encourage the owners of those properties to bring them back into occupation.
“However, changing that premium is complex and it can have unintended consequences as well.
“That’s why the recommendations within the report are that we should consult widely on the potential impact of changing the premium before coming back to cabinet.”
Welsh local authorities currently apply premiums ranging from 25 per cent to 100 per cent.
Cllr Chris Bithell, cabinet member for planning and public protection, said he supported the review.
‘Housing waiting list’
He said: “As a local authority, we are well aware of the numbers on our housing waiting list.
“Some of them stand very little hope of being housed in the near future or even the medium term.
“It was a mechanism we introduced to try and ensure these properties were brought back into usage as soon as possible.
“Perhaps we do need to take a fresh look at this, but I wouldn’t like to dispose of it altogether because I think it is a useful tool in the box to ensuring that these properties are brought back into proper usage.”
Cabinet members unanimously approved the review at the end of their discussions.
A public consultation will be held before final recommendations are made to a full council meeting.