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Second homes clampdown in Wales will ‘rig’ the tourism industry for big business says travel journalist

07 Jun 2022 4 minute read
A demonstration against second homes Photo – Wynne Evans.

The Welsh Government’s clampdown on second homes in Wales will rig the tourism industry in favour of big business, a travel journalist has said.

Jade Bremner, who has authored more than 30 Lonely Planet books, said that plans to classify only homes that were let out for longer periods as holiday lets would mean that local people would be unable to make extra money from their properties.

The Welsh Government confirmed last month that they would carry on with plans for tax hikes on holiday lets that do not rent out their properties for more than half the year.

Following a consultation, from April local authorities will be able to set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties to 300% from April 2023.

The criteria for self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates instead of council tax will also change at the same time, from 70 to 182 days.

But writing in the Telegraph, Jade Bremner said that this would “hackle post-pandemic recovery and cultural exchange when we need it the most”.

“It appears that the UK’s devolved governments are bowing to pressure from big chains and disgruntled residents who resent the tide of change in their towns and cities,” she said.

“But preventing people from bumping up their incomes with their own properties does not create a level playing field – quite the opposite – it rigs tourism in favour of big business and prevents travellers from seeking affordable and authentic experiences.”

‘Stimulating’

Jade Bremner added that holiday lets put money “into the pockets of regular people” rather than large companies.

“Why should big chains and investors have a monopoly on places (like in New York and Barcelona)? And why are we policing what individuals can and can’t do with their own houses?” she asked.

She also added that staying in the homes of local people gave tourists a better sense of the places they were staying.

“Online short-term rentals have changed the way we travel for the better. It’s now realistically possible to stay in any small British hamlet, dip our toes into rural life, and truly understand what these communities are about,” she said.

“All while spending money in the local pubs and shops, buying local produce and stimulating the local economy. We can visit the places that don’t have space for a big hotel, and nor do they want one.”

The Welsh Government confirmed last month that they would crack on with their plans for tax hikes on holiday lets that do not rent out their properties for more than half the year.

Following a consultation, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said that she did “recognise the strength of feeling among self-catering operators” but would not be changing the planned law changes.

“As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, we are committed to taking immediate action to address the impact of second homes and unaffordable housing in communities across Wales, using the planning, property and taxation systems,” Rebecca Evans said.

“As we continue to progress the package of measures and drawing on the latest evidence base, we will keep under constant review the whole range of levers available to use and how they may be deployed most effectively to meet our policy objectives and avoid any unintended consequences.”

She added that “I recognise the strength of feeling among self-catering operators and have listened to the representations from individual businesses and industry representative bodies.

“There is limited evidence available in relation to some of these considerations and I am grateful to the sector for providing additional information they have gathered from their members.

“This has been taken into account in completing the Explanatory Memorandum and Regulatory Impact Assessment, which makes use of the available evidence. I recognise that the stronger criteria may be challenging for some operators to meet.

“The purpose of the change is to help ensure property owners are making a fair contribution to local communities, for example by increasing their contribution to the local economy through greater letting activity or by paying council tax on their properties.”


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Arwyn
Arwyn
6 months ago

I’ve said many a time before that this problem should be approached through planning permission. We need to allow councils to set a % for the number of residential properties in a community permitted to be used other than as a primary residence. Set hefty fines for those caught cheating the system. Jade Bremmer makes a salient point about the unintended consequences of the taxation route … however she completely fails to understand why restrictions are necessary. We are losing our linguistic heritage on the basis of economic and political disparity. It’s a fight for survival.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
6 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Someone form a conservative party. The globalists in Welsh Gov. are not on our side.

Ianto Ffrainc
Ianto Ffrainc
6 months ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

You prefer the isolationists in London? If we have to deal with Unionist authoritarians I’d rather they were socialist. What is it about the greed intolerance and petty cruelties of all conservatives everywhere that attracts you so? Has the world not suffered enough? I must admit I cannot understand why anyone would prefer isolationism. Isolationism causes wars and food shortages and turns the M25 into a massive lorry park and threatens to break up the Union ….. never mind. I get it. Isolationist Conservatism will destroy the Union. But we must be careful about when we act, otherwise as well… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Ianto Ffrainc
SundanceKid
SundanceKid
6 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

I think other changes incuding planning rules are on the horizon.
I expect Jade Bremmer knows why we are doing this, but likely doesn’t care.

Last edited 6 months ago by SundanceKid
Steve George
Steve George
6 months ago

No one is ‘policing’ people’s use of their property. We are simply going to tax them at the appropriate rate for a business.

Mike
Mike
6 months ago

There’s nothing stopping people renting out their homes for less than 180 days; they just won’t get the tax break, which is now reserved for those that are serious about the holiday lettings business. Seems fair enough to me.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
6 months ago

Of course, she would say that wouldn’t she. This is just a toy throwing exercise, nothing more.

BobSnail
BobSnail
6 months ago

This proposed measure is not visitors “staying in the homes of local people” but owning the homes that should be homes for local people, hence reducing the opportunities for local people to have a home in their home town or village.

Ian
Ian
6 months ago
Reply to  BobSnail
Erisian
Erisian
6 months ago

I’ve said it before but we need to do two things
1. Houses currently owned by residents of an area are only allowed to sell to other residents or people moving full time into the area. Make that a law across the whole of Wales. Including Cardiff. .
2. Ban large hotel groups from Wales.

Peter jones
Peter jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

Most people I know who own the second home/holiday let are local people. The messages coming out of wales seems to be stay away we don’t want strangers here, seems like a step back to the 70’s whilst the rest of the world is joining together some people in wales want to isolate themselves.

Gaynor Jones
Gaynor Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter jones

This is not an anti English vendetta. LAs across England are taking steps and wanting to take action in the someway or other against disembowelling the host community. 12 years ago I did Airbnb, living in a house and renting room out when I needed to sub my income. It was great and the whole point of Airbnb when it started was you stayed at a local host to get the local flavour. I met some lovely people who were looking for something different. But it has turned into a monster with people bulk buying houses for self catering/ holiday… Read more »

Erisian
Erisian
6 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

Why are you posting under my name? I thought you’d been blocked!

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 months ago

I’m still trying in vain to discover what the big favour done to Wales is, resulting from hollowing out Welsh communities by filling them with holiday homes. This ‘opinion piece’ is just another failed attempt by the apologists for colonialism to present the culprits as Wales’ best hope.

Last edited 6 months ago by Wrexhamian
David
David
6 months ago

No mention of house holders doing B&B.

Ianto Ffrainc
Ianto Ffrainc
6 months ago

Would hackle cultural exchange at a time when “we” need it eh Jade? Assuming you mean between your culture and ours. See what you are talking about there is actually called cultural oppression …. Or cultural eradication. No offence Jade but we have all the English culture we can handle. It’s fed to us like corn to a goose that is destined for pâté, and we know how the culture of speaking our own language culture n our own country upsets many culturally English, many of them sharing their opinions is your Unionisr organ. So kindly and with love, byddwch… Read more »

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

A well meant but very simple point of view im afrsid. In my vears advising Manchester Met Uni School of Tourism and Hospitality – i often heard these sort of comments from well intentioned city liberal fly in & out speakers at euro conferences.

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