Tories complain about plan for maximum tax hike of 300% on second homes
The Tories have complained about a move to increase the maximum council tax hike on second homes to 300%.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Housing, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, has claimed that the decision is “punishing aspiration and investment in Wales”.
She also accused the Welsh Government of “pandering to their nationalist coalition partners”.
It is part of a series of measures set out in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
Councils across Wales will be able set the premium at any level up to the maximum, from April 2023.
The maximum premium councils can charge at the moment is 100%, which means the new measure could lead to a possible tax rise of 200%.
It will be possible to apply different rates for second homes and long-term empty dwellings.
Janet Finch-Saunders, who according to the register of interests is the Senedd’s most prolific landlord, owning or co-owning 7 properties, said: “It is deeply concerning that Labour ministers are pandering to their nationalist coalition partners and punishing aspiration and investment in Wales.
“The housing crisis is a direct result of years of successive Labour-led governments failing to provide opportunities and build enough houses, with housebuilding falling below levels before devolution. What we see is a Labour Government desperately trying to act long after the horse has bolted.
“This Labour Government is failing to tackle the root issues of the housing crisis and failing to address the fact that there are more empty homes in Wales than there are second homes.
“Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay need to get a grip, address the housing shortage in Wales and provide an environment where hard work can be rewarded.”
‘Out of reach’
Climate change minister Julie James said: “We want people to be able to live and work in their local communities, but we know rising house prices are putting them out of reach of many people, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis we are facing.
“There is no easy answer or quick-fix solution. This is a complex problem that requires a wide range of actions.
“We continue to carefully consider further measures that could be introduced, and these changes are the latest steps we are taking to increase the availability of homes and ensure a fair contribution is made.”
Plaid Cymru’s Lead Designated Member Sian Gwenllian MS said: “It is clear that we as a country are facing a housing crisis. So many people cannot afford to live in their local areas, and the situation has worsened during the pandemic.
“These changes will make a difference, enabling councils to respond to their local circumstances and start to close the loophole in the current law. It’s a first but important step on a journey towards a new housing system that ensures that people have the right to live in their community.”
The criteria for self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates instead of council tax will also change from next April.
Currently, properties that are available to let for at least 140 days, and that are actually let for at least 70 days, will pay rates rather than council tax. The change will increase these thresholds to being available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days in any 12-month period.
The change is intended to provide a clearer demonstration that the properties concerned are being let regularly as part of genuine holiday accommodation businesses making a substantial contribution to the local economy.
Both changes follow a consultation processes including businesses, the tourism industry and local communities.
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