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Second homes tax rise ‘leading to depression and even thoughts of suicide’

28 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Colourful houses in Tenby

Bruce Sinclair Local Democracy Reporter

Second home-owners are paying as much as £11,000 in council tax following the introduction of treble tax rate, which has even led to some contemplating suicide, a support group has said.

Pembrokeshire has been operating a 100 per cent council tax premium for second homes, effectively a double rate, for several years.

Back in December, members Pembrokeshire’s full council backed a Cabinet-supported 200 per cent premium for second homes, effectively a treble rate, from April onwards.

Support group

Pembrokeshire Second Homes Support Group, run by Chris Morgan, formerly of Pembroke Dock and Siân Evans of Cardiff, was formed “from a need to inform reassure and assist members to cope with the latest increase in the council tax second homes premium from 100 per cent to 200 per cent”.

They said: “As the council tax demands for 2024-25 arrive, we have discovered massive increases. Typical council tax bills are running between £5,000 and £11,000. We believe that in the extensive meetings and debate concerning the 2024-2025 budget, the effect of these premiums on those paying them has been overlooked.”

In a message to Pembrokeshire County Council, the group said: “We have been disregarded in this matter, despite the fact that your budget relies on us. Being the lowest council tax in the land seems to be the goal, but at our expense.

“Four weeks’ notice has been given for these increases. People have been left desperate. All of us have faced stress and anxiety over this, some have suffered depression on a clinical level.

“Look closely and you will see the increased level of housing stock on the market. Look past those worrying economic indicators, and consider that some of these houses have been in families for centuries and placed on the market in panic.

“Your assumption that these payments are possible is inaccurate. You chose to disregard the results of your own consultation and the requests of your own members who for more analysis of this exploitive tax and its effects.

“We are placing Pembrokeshire County Council on notice that after years of paying hugely inflated amounts, this has now come to an end. It is exploitative and in our opinion the result of poor financial management. We consider our fiscal relationship with this council to be fractured, without trust and in some cases dangerous to our members’ health.”

“Misery”

Chris said: “The picture of abject misery and hardship is unfolding as we speak with at least one so-called second home-owner contemplating suicide.

“These are not Rachman types caught up in this, but ordinary folk committed to our county and of long standing. More often than not, like myself, part of the diaspora.”

He added: “There is no group policy on payment and individuals will act as they will. However, some members are reporting that they cannot afford it and are putting their homes on the market. One member is so desperate that she is considering suicide.

“These are ordinary folk, vast majority Welsh, who are being treated as predatory outsiders.”

Pembrokeshire County Council has been contacted for a response.


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Richard
Richard
12 days ago

Is that the depression of the young folk who can’t find homes they can afford in their native areas of Sir Benfro…..or perhaps dangers of suicide in families priced out of villages – by hollowing out communities of schools and shops….making life unaffordable?

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
12 days ago
Reply to  Richard

Who sold the houses in the first place?

CapM
CapM
12 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

“Who sold the houses in the first place?”
Some will be owners who for various reasons will be moving to other houses elsewhere.
Some will be owners who need or have to sell their house
Some other reasons probably, have a think.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
12 days ago
Reply to  CapM

I know there are various reasons, but there seems to be focus on blaming second home owners for ‘hollowing out communities’. Why didn’t a local sell to another local all those years ago?

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
12 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

consider that some of these houses have been in families for centuries and placed on the market in panic.”

The article states that some homes have been in the family for generations. So the locals you refer to didn’t sell them to outsiders they failed to sell the property when relatives or moved away and just kept the property in the family.

CapM
CapM
11 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Buying a second home is in practically every case a choice. Selling not so. Selling to another local and excluding second home buyers would likely involve selling below the open market price. For a number of reasons, and you say that you know these reasons, that may not be practical or even possible. An analogy that may or may not be helpful to you. It’s not the touts that sell tickets at inflated prices that results in ordinary fans not being able to afford to attend concerts but rather the it’s the fans who can afford and are willing to… Read more »

Art Byrant
Art Byrant
12 days ago

Sell the second home. No one should have a second home anyway

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
12 days ago
Reply to  Art Byrant

Does this include politicians as well?

Richard E
Richard E
12 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Pawb !

Stevie B
Stevie B
12 days ago
Reply to  Art Byrant

I agree Art, everyone in Wales should be poor and on the breadline. People shouldn’t be aspirational and seek a better life for themselves and their families.

karl
karl
12 days ago
Reply to  Stevie B

Clueless fool

Nicola Davies
Nicola Davies
12 days ago

“However, some members are reporting that they cannot afford it and are putting their *SECOND* homes on the market. One member is so desperate that she is considering suicide.”
What a despicable threat to make.
There is a cost of living and housing crises, and these brats are threatening suicide!!

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
12 days ago

Im sure they will find a way around this- it not difficult as a lot of second home owners are doing elsewhere.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
12 days ago

Faint o raff yr hoffent? Gen i ddigon yn y beudy.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago

Sell up and enjoy your life in your other home. Use your investment money to come to Wales for a holiday. Depression fixed.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
12 days ago

It is better paid jobs local people need. The average house price in Cymru is approximately £215,000, people need good jobs to afford to buy a home. Increasing council tax on second homes will not lower house prices, it is a popularist policy designed to appease local community members, Welsh language campaigners and (in the face of ongoing Tory austerity) increase revenue to local authorities.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
12 days ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

Absolutely agree with everything you said here. I asked a commenter on another article, what is the price for a property to be considered affordable. He/she did not reply.

Gary H
Gary H
12 days ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

O yes it will. More houses on the market
= lower prices in the end. Supply and demand and all that…

Caradwg
Caradwg
12 days ago
Reply to  Gary H

And, if areas adopt the new Use Class changes, that will also lead to fewer homes becoming AirBnBs and second homes – that will affect supply and cost.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
12 days ago
Reply to  Gary H

Increases in council tax on second homes will not lower house prices to a level where people on low incomes can afford to buy them. The housing market is far more complex than your simplistic GSCE Economics level analysis suggests.

CapM
CapM
11 days ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

It looks like you’re suggesting that people on low income will be the ones buying these, once were second homes. That rather looks like “simplistic GSCE Economics”
In reality it’s likely that people with enough income to pay eg £20,000 less will buy a once was second home. With would have a knock on effect down the price gradient for properties making the current cheapest ones cheaper and so affordable to those on the low incomes that are currently excluded from home ownership you refer to.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
11 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Like in Abersoch where the average house price is over £550,000 or the average house price in Aberaeron of over £350,000?

CapM
CapM
11 days ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

Abersoch and Aberaeron aren’t typical.
Second home ownership is widespread.
And again it’s not those that can’t currently afford a home that will be buying the £350 -550,000 properties.

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
12 days ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

Supply and demand, will say if you remove a section of demand – second homes – then the prices will reduce. Also, if an area is filled with holiday homes there is not the work force, or local customers to sustain business enterprises.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
11 days ago
Reply to  Paul ap Gareth

Will prices reduce to a level that people on lower incomes can afford them? I doubt that very much. In economic theory it states that prices are ‘sticky downwards’, that means that prices are less likely to fall than to rise.

karl
karl
12 days ago

I would shed a tear, but the locals affected by toxic tourism and second homes, deserves a chance to stay in their communities

Eiri
Eiri
12 days ago

Lucky to have one house, let alone two. Sell up.

Lord Custard
Lord Custard
12 days ago

No one needs a second home. Plenty need a first.

Arthur
Arthur
11 days ago
Reply to  Lord Custard

The second home premium in Ceredigion has led to a cumulative deficit not a surplus to March 2023 as owners find ways around paying the premium.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
11 days ago
Reply to  Arthur

That just means that there are loopholes that need to be closed. Second homes are an abomination, as is the over reliance on destructive over tourism.

hdavies15
hdavies15
11 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

I warned about these loopholes ages ago when the subject was moving towards adoption of policy. Taking their lead from their M.P’s people were “flipping” their residences setting up their house in say Gwynedd as principal home and declaring their posh house in Cheshire as the second home. Job done. Works a treat until counties like Cheshire also adopt a stiff second home tariff. Older couples with dependent kids in late teens or 20’s have transferred the second home to their kids names as part of a lifetime inheritance tax fiddle ( all legit apparently as long as you get… Read more »

Arthur
Arthur
11 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

You are absolutely correct hdavies15. People will use the differential rates to their advantage – possibilities are endless, especially when you have older kids ! Who on earth is going to check ? This is exactly the anecdotal evidence I am hearing.

Arthur
Arthur
11 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

We are not talking about ‘ loopholes’ – let us be clear , we mean enforcement of the law and my research has revealed that the authorities across Wales have simply not had the requisite resource to do this. All that is happening now is that Councils use the ‘excuse’ that the neighbouring council is levying a certain rate so they must do the same. It is all about raising revenue – nothing else. Then they want to use the revenue raised to simply plug holes in existing budgets and not to build affordable homes. The problem I see in… Read more »

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
9 days ago
Reply to  Arthur

I agree with every word of your comment.

ClaireV
ClaireV
9 days ago

I class as a second home owner in the government’s eyes. My house had a small granary attached next door and in the 90s we were encouraged and given grants to diversify the farm by making it into a holiday home. Now we are being punished for being a second home owner and putting our own family home next door at risk as the cost of 2 council tax bills are so high. We are very rural and thus makes it hard to reach anywhere near the required 182 nights needed in a year to enable us to remain on… Read more »

Arthur
Arthur
8 days ago
Reply to  ClaireV

Wasn’t there a big fuss about this and weren’t the authorities looking to grant exemptions or was this to do with converted farm buildings ? Anyway, with this ridiculous policy, all you are going to get is these anomalies. Scrap it I say. Increasing stamp duty on the purchase of a second home is a better option in my view but then the issue is that many second home owners will sell up and of course the buyers are not likely to be local ( due to prohibitively high asking prices). More often than not they will be looking to… Read more »

Arthur
Arthur
8 days ago
Reply to  ClaireV

Sorry Claire, I missed the bit that you owned a farm. Do you not get an exemption for this ? The authorities / politicians never thought through this policy and its negative ramifications.

ClaireV
ClaireV
8 days ago
Reply to  Arthur

Thanks I will see what exemptions there may be and if we qualify. I always thought there was talk of exemptions and remember the gov never really responding and refusing to budge. Great to hear there maybe something to help but assume it would be just for the premium part which would help a lot. And assume the government won’t tell me if I’m entitled its something I need to let them know about.

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