Crowdfunding second home owner wants to take council to court over 100% tax premium
A second home owner has crowdfunded with the aim of taking a council to court over a 100% tax premium.
According to Anthony Chancellor, the “discriminatory” decision by Gwynedd Council to levy the tax is “based on anti-English sentiments” and “disproportionately affects those who aren’t Welsh”.
Chancellor, who used the crowd CrowdJustice platform, set a target of £6,000 in order to pay for advice from a senior barrister to look at the merits of judicially reviewing the council tax hike. He ended up raising £8,070.
He claims that all that he is asking for is “fairness” and to be treated “equally”.
According to the second home owner “little consideration” was given to older people, some of whom are pensioners, those who suffer from disabilities, and those on fixed incomes who “will genuinely struggle to pay”.
Second home owners used to face a council tax premium of 50%, which has now been doubled to 100%.
Councillors say they had to prioritise the 60% of locals priced out of the market over those seeking a second home in Gwynedd.
Council figures showing that 10.77% of Gwynedd’s housing stock is now designated as second homes, which is higher than any other county in Wales.
Members have been told that the hiking of the premium is expected to generate around £3m extra a year, which will be ploughed back into a £77m housing action plan designed to build more properties and tackle an “ongoing emergency”.
The council says that 1,500 affordable properties will be built in Gwynedd as a result.
The council conducted a public consultation on the issue, which found that 55.1% of respondents believed second homes brought “positive benefits.”
However, with 58.6% being holiday home owners themselves, the vast majority of locals were found to be more concerned about their impact.
Anthony Chancellor said: “On 4th March 2021 Gwynedd Council voted to increase the premium on the council tax of second home owners to 100%. For many of us that means we have to pay around £3,600 a year in council tax for a 2 bed property.
“The decision taken was unfair, irrational, unreasonable and discriminatory. We believe the decision was based on anti-English sentiments.
“Little consideration was given to the impact on older people, those who suffer from disabilities or those who are on fixed incomes.
“Some of our group are pensioners and will genuinely struggle to pay. Furthermore, the decision disproportionately affects those who aren’t Welsh.
“We are trying to raise £6,000 (£5,000 + VAT) to pay for an advice from a senior Barrister (a QC) on the merits of judicially reviewing Gwynedd.
“This is the first step in our fight but will help us decide if we have a good case and whether we should take Gwynedd to court to overturn the decision. Please help us to raise this figure by contributing and sharing this page.
“We believe that if Gwynedd is not challenged it will impose further unfair and discriminatory taxes not only on us but other groups, such as those who own furnished holiday lets.
“The decision of Gwynedd is being studied by other councils across England and Wales with a view to implementing similar taxation in those areas. This is our opportunity to challenge this unfair tax whilst we still have the opportunity.
“All we are asking for is fairness and to be treated equally. Please help us to achieve our aim. Many thanks for your time.”
Councillor Craig ab Iago, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Housing said: “My top priority is to ensure that we as a Council do everything we can to offer homes to the people of Gwynedd within our communities.
“We know that our young people face a greater challenge than ever to find a suitable home locally, and this is an unfair and unjust situation.
“Put simply, it is a crisis and I’m determined to see us delivering a real change. I am therefore extremely proud of this Plan, which not only shows Gwynedd Council’s vision for the future of housing in the county, but more importantly, that we have definite plans to implement that vision.
“With the help of the Council Tax Premium income that is levied on second home owners, we will start building our own houses and selling them on a shared ownership model to local residents.
“We will offer financial assistance to local first-time buyers and aim to buy properties from the housing market to let to Gwynedd residents in accordance with the new local allocation policy we have introduced.”