Second homes tax will be used to help local people in Gwynedd get on the property ladder
Dale Spridgeon, Local Democracy Reporter
Council tax from a controversial second homes levy and Welsh Government funds will be used to help struggling locals and first-time buyers get on the property ladder.
Gwynedd Council is launching a £13 million “homebuy” scheme which will be part-funded by its plan to hike council tax on holiday homes by as much as 300%.
Locals are being urged to check their eligibility for the Gwynedd Homebuy Scheme.
The shared equity project was launched in partnership with Tai Teg and the Welsh Government earlier this week.
Already available nationally, the council says it intends to extend the current scheme.
The county has Wales’ highest number of chargeable second homes although the numbers are falling amid the council tax premium hike and holiday property status changes.
Under the scheme applicants can now borrow between 10% and up to 50% of a property’s value. They can now be approved if they are households with an income of up to £60,000 – the previous limit was £45,000
It has also increased the maximum property price that can be purchased to up to £300,000. Around 6,000 properties in Gwynedd are currently unavailable as homes for local people.
Gwynedd had 4,720 chargeable second properties for the period 2022/3 – slightly down on the previous year’s figure of 5,098.
It also had 1,349 long-term empty second properties, a small drop from last year’s figure of 1,558, according to Welsh Government data.
The latest funding includes an investment of £8.5m by the Welsh Government as part of the Dwyfor Second Homes Pilot.
The pilot scheme was part of measures to tackle the impact of second homes and short term holiday lets on communities in Wales.
Gwynedd says it has “significantly” increased the funding from approximately £300,000/year to £13m – over four years – “to help more people”.
Through its Housing Action Plan, the council says it “identified a gap” in the provision of “intermediate housing” across the county.
Intermediate housing describes a range of homes for sale and rent provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels
The scheme aims to help residents who find themselves not eligible for social housing but who also not able to afford to buy or rent on the open market. The Coed Mawr site, in Bangor is one of the first to provide 10 affordable ‘intermediate’ homes.”
Since June 2021, the council says, the number of applications to buy affordable housing in Bangor had increased 405% (from 60 to 303 enquiries). Other help includes the Tŷ Gwynedd scheme to build intermediate affordable homes.
The council is also buying and restoring vacant properties, or offering loans and grants to local residents. Purchasing land to build houses is another new scheme available and the council recently purchased its first plot of land in Morfa Nefyn, as part of its Housing Action Plan.
It also buys houses on the open market to rent out to local residents at an affordable rent price and is increasing the social housing stock through collaborations with Housing Associations.
“Through the Housing Action Plan, the council has a clear vision to help local people live in high-standard affordable homes in their area,” Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Property Craig ab Iago said.
“In such a difficult time, the amendments that the Council has made, with thanks to collaboration with Grŵp Cynefin, Welsh Government and the Dwyfor Pilot, means this scheme will help even more people across Gwynedd.
“I encourage anyone who would like more information to visit the Council’s website, if you’re eligible for the scheme, register with Tai Teg as soon as possible.”
Catrin Roberts, Grŵp Cynefin’s affordable homes manager said: “House prices have increased to such an extent that all possible support needs to be offered to first-time buyers.”
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said it allocated up to £8.5 million to fund Gwynedd’s Homebuy Scheme.
“This will be an essential part of the Second Homes’ Pilot Scheme held up to 2024 in Dwyfor, working in partnership with the local authority and other partners to provide meaningful solutions for local people.”
Hundreds are expected at a rally in Anglesey this Saturday, September 17, calling for more to be done on second homes in Wales.
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