Language campaigners welcome First Minister’s pledge on second homes
Language campaigners have welcomed a pledge from the First Minister to tackle the issue of second homes.
Mark Drakeford told S4C current affairs programme Pawb a’i Farn that there “isn’t enough time” to legislate on second homes in this Senedd term but promised to do so in the next one, and this has been described as “encouraging” by Cymdeithas yr Iaith.
Many people are priced out of their own communities because of rocketing house prices, and according to recent figures, in Gwynedd the price of detached homes increased from an average £250,000 in the previous quarter to £280,000.
It is the area with the highest increase in average house prices, which shot up by 14.6 per cent in just three months.
The First Minister said there “isn’t one answer” but added that the Welsh Government was going to raise the tax on second homes in the next budget. He said that it would have to legislate to make changes to the planning system if it was going to give more powers to local authorities to deal with the issue.
He also promised to cooperate with other parties to tackle the problem, including with Sian Gwenllian, the Plaid Cymru MS for Arfon.
Mabli Siriol, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: “It’s encouraging to hear the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, pledging to introduce a package of legislative reforms to solve the housing crisis in the next Senedd term. This new development is a result of tireless campaigning by campaigners across the country.
“As part of our ‘Mwy Na Miliwn’, (‘More than a million’) policy vision for the next election, we propose a package of policies that should be implemented in order to solve the current crisis.
“For example, a Property Act should be introduced that will give community control over the housing market and secure a local home for all.
“The next Government also needs to cap the percentage of second homes in any given community, control rent prices so that they are affordable for people on local incomes and introduce a super-tax for landlords which would go towards investing in bringing empty homes and second homes back to community use.
“Now is the time for all political parties to pledge to introduce a Property Act in the next Senedd term and decide, for once, to prioritise communities, not capitalism.”
Mr Drakeford said: “In the budget, the draft that is in front of the Senedd at the moment, we’re going to raise the tax on people who buy second homes, raise that once again. That’s one thing, but something important.
“If we’re going to use the planning system and if we’re going to give more powers to the local authorities, to deal with the problem, we will have to legislate, and to be honest there just isn’t enough time left in the current term of the Senedd to legislate.
“So, what we’re doing is preparing now in case we’re able to after the next election to come back to put that package in place.
“We want to work with other people to put together a package that is effective to get rid of the problem that some people in some areas are facing.”