UK Government considers following Wales with new crackdown on second home owners
A UK Government minister has indicated he is considering a new crackdown on second home ownership in England.
At Housing Questions at Westminster on Monday, Housing Minister Stuart Andrew said he was being contacted by concerned MPs “on a daily basis” about the impact second homes were having on communities and said there was “more that we need to explore” on second home ownership.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, laid out by the UK Government last week, includes giving local authorities in England the ability to increase council tax on second homes by 100%.
Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, asked Mr Andrew whether he would consider going further in order to stop communities being “hollowed out” by the rise of Airbnbs and called for measures to be introduced which would require people wanting to use the properties as holiday lets to apply for specific permission from local council.
Mr Andrew responded: “The issue of second homes is something that I seem to be dealing with on a daily basis with colleagues from around the country, raising it with me and highlighting some of the concerns they have for their communities.
“We have in the Bill the ability for local councils to increase council tax on those second homes. But I think there is more that we need to explore and that’s why I’m doing a series of round tables around the country.”
The Welsh Conservatives have strongly opposed measures being introduced to deal with the housing crisis in Wales caused by the proliferation of second homes and holiday lets.
In February the Welsh Government announced that the maximum tax hike on second homes is set to be raised to a whopping 300% in an attempt to cool the housing market.
The move is to tackle the negative impact vacant houses, holiday lets and soaring property prices are having on local communities.
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 also be possible to apply different rates for second homes and long-term empty dwellings.
Responding to the measures being introduced in Wales, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Housing, Janet Finch-Saunders MS accused ministers of punishing aspiration and investment in Wales and blamed the Labour government for the housing crisis
“It is deeply concerning that Labour ministers are pandering to their nationalist coalition partners and punishing aspiration and investment in Wales, she said”
“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 failing to address the fact that, until recently there have been 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.”
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