‘Not enough time to legislate on second homes’ says Mark Drakeford
Mark Drakeford has said there “isn’t enough time” to legislate on second homes in this Senedd term.
But the First Minister did pledge to get to grips with the issue in the next parliamentary term, on S4C current affairs programme Pawb a’i Farn.
Mr Drakeford was challenged on the subject by Catrin, from Nefyn, in Gwynedd, where many people are priced out of their own communities because of rocketing house prices.
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 but said 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.
Catrin said: “The problem of the number of second homes in Wales has existed for many years, but since the beginning of the lockdown, the first lockdown, this problem has got considerably worse, and by now there has been a significant increase in the number of second homes.
“It undermines a large number of our communities. Members of the Nefyn town council had a meeting with you Mr Drakeford, a few weeks back, and in that meeting to discuss this problem you did acknowledge that there needs to be a package of measures to deal with this problem.
“My question to you now is, what measures do you think that are effective and should be implemented?
Mr Drakeford replied: “It was great to have the opportunity to meet with a group of young people from Nefyn and hear from them about the experiences they have had. There isn’t one answer to the problem of too many second homes in some areas in Wales.
“What we’re working on in the Government is a package of measures like Catrin is talking about. We have started already.
“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.
“I’m determined to do things, after speaking to Catrin and other people, and cooperate with people in other parties in the Senedd too. Sian Gwenllian who represents Nefyn, was in the same meeting with us. 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.
“Of course, Nefyn is in the north west. Tourism is important to the economy, but we need to think about how we can do that and at the tame time protect the futures of young people who want to stay in Nefyn and similar villages.”
Catrin said: “It’s good to see Mr Drakeford saying that he is determined that he wants to get to grips with this problem. I would like to say that it is important that increasing the tax higher than 1 per cent is vital, and even increasing the premium on houses 200 per cent, that would be great.
“What I would really like to see is the Welsh Government changing the planning laws so that it is a requirement that you need planning permission to change a house into a summer home or a holiday unit and put a cap on the number of holiday homes.”