Watch: Second home measures will drive away ‘people who love Wales and want to be part of it’ says Welsh Secretary
New measures to tackle the housing crisis in Wales by bringing down the number of second homes will drive away people “who love the country and want to be part of it” according to the new Welsh Secretary.
Visiting the Eisteddfod in Ceredigion today, Robert Buckland told S4C that he was against Welsh Government plans to allow local authorities to raise taxes on holiday homes by 300%.
The criteria for self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates instead of council tax will also change at the same time, from 70 to 182 days.
But Robert Buckland said that people should think about the impact that the changes would have on the local economy.
“I know a lot of local people will feel that people are being priced out of the neighbourhood, that families can’t live, generations can’t live near to each other,” he said.
“But I think that could be an artificial downer, if you like, on the local economy – because I think part of the lifeblood of west Wales is tourism, and therefore, we need to get the balance right.”
He added: “I think every one of us, whether we live here full time or have a second home has a responsibility, I think, to the local economy and indeed to the local community.
“And I think that we should be trusting people’s good sense in the way that they use their homes and allow homes to be used by others. You know, there’s all sorts of ways Airbnb, or whatever – all sorts of ways in which houses don’t have to lie idle and can become, you know, a vital part of our economy.”
Mae Ysgrifennydd Cymru, Robert Buckland A.S, wedi beirniadu cynlluniau Llywodraeth Cymru i ganiatáu codi trethi ar berchnogion ail gartrefi. 🏘️🏴 pic.twitter.com/AFgLD1PGbf
— Newyddion S4C (@NewyddionS4C) August 1, 2022
Robert Buckland was then asked about changing to taxes on second homes in Wales due to be introduced next year.
“I’m worried about that,” he said. “I think that could drive out a lot of people who have for familial and historical reasons, kept their links with Wales.
“I think any reasonable person, people who love the country and want to be part of it, my worry is that with that sort of punitive rise, you’re going to drive people away.
“You’re going to force sales, you’re going to depress house prices. I am not sure that that heavy handed approach is the right way to deal with rural parts of Wales.
“I think it’s causing real problems and pain in places like Pembrokeshire, where tourism is such an important part of the economy. It’s all about getting the balance, right.
“You know, I hear the arguments. I respect them. I understand the tensions. But sometimes measures like that can actually have the opposite effect on what is intended.”
He said that the answer instead was to ‘level up’ communities so that young people could afford the house prices in the area.
“It’s also about opportunity,” he said. “And that’s where the levelling up agenda is so important.
“Why should young people have to move away from their local area to succeed? Why is it not the case that they can adopt their chosen career in the land or the area of their birth?
“With technology, that is going to be more and more possible, you know, there are millions of people are working from their, their homes. This is possible and indeed achievable in the short term.”
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