An MP has condemned as a “shocking injustice” the revelation that second home owners in Wales can claim grants intended to support businesses in the country.
Firms employing fewer than nine people can apply for £10,000 grants as part of a £1.1bn Welsh Government package.
A growing number of second homes are registered as businesses as councils can raise a premium on council tax on second homes.
Dwyfor-Meirionnydd MP Liz-Saville Roberts condemned the development.
“Why should second home owners who’ve flipped to business rates – and pay nothing – to avoid council tax get £10k hand-out from a coronavirus support grant, Welsh Government?” she tweeted.
”Our communities need leadership, not shocking social injustice .”
Arfon Assembly Member Sian Gwenllian also called on the Welsh Government to change the rules.
“Unless the Labour Government in Wales changes the rules, millions of pounds will be paid out in Covid grants to second home owners,” she said. “They have a moral obligation to put an end to this at once.”
Gwynedd has about 5,000 second homes and the council estimates the owners of between 1,500 and 1,800 of them may be registered as businesses.
Elwyn Vaughan, who represents a ward in the Dyfi Valley in Powys Council, told the BBC that second home owners were in the process of claiming the £10,000 coronavirus grant.
“It could mean around £2.5m paid out to these holiday homes which is a stark raving bonkers situation.
“The money should be there for genuine, small businesses of which Powys has a wide range of companies like that which should be benefiting from these grants.”
The same issue has arised in Cornwall where former St Ives MP Andrew George argued that the government was about to give “generous handouts to wealthy second home owners”.
Mr George said: “Under the radar of last week’s Budget the Conservative government quietly slipped out a hand out of £21 million to Cornwall and Scillies’ second home owners while low-paid workers and self-employed are left to struggle without help.
“The owners of the 7,000+ second homes in Cornwall and Scilly who’ve opted to use the tax dodge ruse available through the business rating system to avoid paying any tax at all on their desirable property investments will be given another coronavirus handout.”