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‘Wealthy English people’ will buy up holiday homes hit by Welsh government crackdown says tourism boss

16 Jun 2022 4 minute read
Left, Ashford Price. Right, Abersoch, which is popular with second home owners. Picture by Ken Doerr (CC BY 2.0).

A vocal figure in one of Wales’ main tourism industry bodies has said that it will be people from England who buy properties that come on the market as a result of the Welsh Government’s crackdown on holiday homes.

From next April the Welsh Government will allow councils to set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties to 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 Ashford Price, owner of the National Showcaves Centre for Wales and Secretary of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions, said that the homes coming on the market, as a result, would not be affordable to people from Wales.

Those running holiday lets would be put out of business by the new criteria before being exempt as businesses from tax rises, and therefore would not be able to afford the properties, he said.

“I believe that Welsh people have the right to live in Welsh homes, built by the Welsh, for the Welsh,” he told the Daily Mail.

But he said that the Welsh Government’s policy amounted to putting “expensive seaside cottages on the market in order to get rich people from England to buy them, knowing that prices are going up and are not falling anytime soon”.

“The Welsh Government’s launched a big crackdown on second homes which means that, from next April, holiday homes have to be let out for more than 182 days a year,” he said.

“This means that a great number of self-catering businesses are going to be absolutely clobbered by the new rules. Some experts have said up to 1,400 businesses could go under, and thousands could lose their job.

“So all of a sudden, these lovely homes in idyllic parts of Wales are going to go on the market, going to become available, and who do you think they’re going to be bought by?

“Not by the Welsh, who will then be out of work and poor. No, it will be from wealthy English people with money to spare who want to make an investment.”

‘Fair’

The Welsh Government have said that the changing the criteria for self-catering accommodation from 70 to 182 days will stop second home owners from classifying homes as businesses to avoid tax.

“As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, we are committed to taking immediate action to address the impact of second homes and unaffordable housing in communities across Wales, using the planning, property and taxation systems,” Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said.

“As we continue to progress the package of measures and drawing on the latest evidence base, we will keep under constant review the whole range of levers available to use and how they may be deployed most effectively to meet our policy objectives and avoid any unintended consequences.”

She added that “I recognise the strength of feeling among self-catering operators and have listened to the representations from individual businesses and industry representative bodies.

“There is limited evidence available in relation to some of these considerations and I am grateful to the sector for providing additional information they have gathered from their members.

“This has been taken into account in completing the Explanatory Memorandum and Regulatory Impact Assessment, which makes use of the available evidence. I recognise that the stronger criteria may be challenging for some operators to meet.

“The purpose of the change is to help ensure property owners are making a fair contribution to local communities, for example by increasing their contribution to the local economy through greater letting activity or by paying council tax on their properties.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
5 months ago

Business owners that have created groups of similarly minded rich people and given their little clubs official-sounding names are spivs, con artists, liars, grifters and utter scum AT BEST, so I would invite no one to listen to this prize grogan (its Australian slang, look it up) and I would urge him to bury himself up to his own neck in sand and see if he can convince the sea to stop rolling in…..He should be instructed to start from the crown of his head and keep piling on the sand until his neck is warm and it’s all nice… Read more »

Brian Martin Weaver
Brian Martin Weaver
5 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Cathy Jones, You really need psychological help;

Llŷn expat
Llŷn expat
5 months ago

He might be a spiv, he might have phrased things indelicately, but he’s not wrong.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
5 months ago
Reply to  Llŷn expat

Unfortunately the problem is that that amounts to saying we shouldn’t have bothered doing anything about this housing crisis in the first place because whatever we do won’t solve the problem 🙄😒

aled
aled
5 months ago
Reply to  Owain Morgan

it’s not complicated. the solution is to build more houses. reserve those new builds for local people. you can’t restrict house prices if u don’t. build. increase supply, lower house prices. build.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
5 months ago
Reply to  aled

Agreed, but we have to stop the rot first. Of course, it’s not just building houses, we have to build Social housing. In 1983 we had 300,000 Social homes in Wales, last time I checked that was down to 158,000 😔

Brian Martin Weaver
Brian Martin Weaver
5 months ago
Reply to  Llŷn expat

Yes he is probably right about the second homes coming onto the market because of this legislation, they will probably be purchased by people retiring, often from England. It won’t make those properties any cheaper, The Welsh Assembly need to be proactive in the drive to encourage the building of starter homes, and introduce legislation that starter homes can only be sold to locals, and only re-sold to locals.

Glen
Glen
5 months ago

Problem is since Brexit a lot of wealthy English people who would have bought in France and Spain are now looking closer to home.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
5 months ago
Reply to  Glen

The problem is a lot of wealthy English people thinking they have the right to fcuk up other people’s countries, be they Welsh, Spanish, Italian, French or anywhere else (and their own country for that matter). This problem won’t go away until the English people (or rather, a small minority of wealthy ones – we can’t blame most English people for this) change their attitude. They are the first to moan about Russian oligarchs buying up properties in London but are quite happy to do it themselves.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
5 months ago

Let’s face it, this is happening already and only 16% of holiday let owners say they will be able to rent out the properties for the new 182 days per annum threshold, so unless they are moving here permanently, have a viable business model for holiday lets or renting out on a long-term basis, it won’t be commercially viable for them to let out these properties. Whatever people’s position on this, it seems grossly unfair that people can avoid paying basic council tax rates on these properties on account of letting them out for a few weeks a year gor… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by SundanceKid
Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
5 months ago

This is unfortunately true. There are simply too many houses for Welsh people to fill. Another phenomena – already happening – is that people are selling their ‘first homes’ over the border and moving permanently to their second homes in the Fro Gymraeg to avoid the tax. Thus instead of anglicising communities for a few weekends per year, they are now being anglicised for 365 days a year! Without a drastic reduction in un-needed house building, a cap on the number of holiday homes allowed in a community, and measures such as local occupancy clauses as exist in places like… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago

How do you come to “own” a national asset like the caves?

Brian Martin Weaver
Brian Martin Weaver
5 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Reply to Quornby; he inherited it from his father.

Gareth Parry
Gareth Parry
5 months ago

WAVAs membership includes Gwynedd council owned attractions such as amgueddfa Lloyd George, and Storiel Gwynedd Mr Ashford Price is a membership secretary , and a significant number of members have enjoyed considerable support from Welsh Government via grants effectively from Welsh taxpayers, urgent questions now need to be raised over public funded attractions lobbying against the elected Government and council
policies, and the ethics of some of the members listed and whether they endorse the anti community statements of Mr Price.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago

Compulsory purchase.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
5 months ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

Can I expose my ignorance and seek enlightenment? Are you saying that if I buy a ‘cottage’ and use it for my holidays and occaasionally let it to others for money I do not have to pay Council Tax? If I do have to pay Council Tax then surely we cannot complain that as a holidayhome owner I am not contributing to the local community. If I don’t have to pay council tax, surely that is the very first thing that should be put right. If you own a home then surely you should be eligible for Council Tax.

Charlie Gumley
Charlie Gumley
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

If you buy a cottage and use it for your own use and occasional rental then this year you’d be paying 200% council tax and next year 300%. If you buy a cottage and run it as a FTHL Full Time Holiday Let as a business then you can apply for business rates which are much lower and in many cases you get rate relief because the income is very low so you can pay zero. however you used to have to prove if asked that you have had paid let for 70 nights a year, they have changed that… Read more »

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
5 months ago

It will create less demand, which will depress prices generally, in the area.
So he is takling a much too simplistic view of it.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
5 months ago

He has a valid point, which, in my opinion, shows that it is regulation (as well as tax) that is needed. E.g. there could be a system where Local Authorities could impose quotas, or even a system where planning permission is needed before a property can be a holiday home. Whatever the solution agreed, I think it highlights what a priority issue this has become and more needs to be done.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

It is certainly unjust that several areas of Wales (e.g. Bae Trearddur, Abersoch, Morfa Nefyn, the Great Orme) are becoming ‘no-go areas’ for most Welsh people.

Pembrokeshire Bob
Pembrokeshire Bob
5 months ago

It’s all well and good criticising the “wealthy English” but the inconvenient truth is that without English money be it from visiting tourists or those who have chosen to relocate and often vastly improve the properties they’ve purchased,Wales would be a run down third world corner of Britain. It is the English pound that has and continues to bring wealth, prosperity and dare I say gentrification to Wales.

D Evs
D Evs
5 months ago

Imperialistic self-aggrandising nonsense.

As you price us out of our own communities (longstanding homes that are not the dilapidated caves that you suggest – and try to think ‘homes’ with history and roots and huge connections to heritage and identity and community not ‘property’) you think you are doing us some kind of favour? You sound a bit like Putin’s spin on Ukraine.

200% council tax on a holiday home that takes in a few thou in Air B&B anyway is no big trauma.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
5 months ago

This is nonsense.

Second home owners do not contribute towards the local economy.

Many businesses in the hospitality industry have to close because they cannot service the residents during the few weeks of the year that they happen to be visiting.

Lebowski
Lebowski
5 months ago

And we will occupy their homes as a result!

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

I find this mans comments close to being neo racist im afraid. Second homes are a disaster whether in Cornwall, Cumbria or Cymru. Its nothing to do with whether these folk come from England or Wales or overseasa. Many parts of rural or urban Cymru, Cumbria or Cernyw benefit from these folk who live in or work in these areas and contribute to the social and community life.. Many learn or fully respect our lamhuage & culture and share the concerns on second homes. I recently changed car and needed a new CYM 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 sticker. The shop in Penllyn told… Read more »

Bill
Bill
5 months ago

Only the English then should live in English homes built by the English.I’ve lived in Wales for eleven years and contributed to the Welsh NHS as an unpaid treasurer and help line volunteer for a cancer charity.We donated over £100000 to the Welsh NHS.All,of our members were English and when we asked for Welsh volunteers they all shuffled their feet and looked down and disappeared..I’m fed up with these Welsh moan bags.Wales isn’t a special place in the world reserved for their priorities.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill

But of course it is welcoming to outsiders who contribute to their adopted new land – our nation has a proud tradition which our friends in England once had also had. Indeed many of the new arrivals add so much to community and local life with only a very few thinking they are either in west anglia or some colony of yokel locals.

You make a fair point indeed in your piece about moaning – but of course we have had quite a bit to moan about in the way we have been treated

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill

That was a very commendable gesture but does not mitigate the adverse impact that holiday homes, and house prices that are now unaffordable to local people, have had on Welsh-speaking communities. Clearly further WG legislation is urgently needed to put a stop to it. This a country that’s being treated like a colony.

Gill Jones
Gill Jones
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill

You could always ‘go home’ to your dear little Ingerland. You won’t be missed. Bant a ti ..

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  Gill Jones

Not really very fair Gill – many hundreds of thousands of our nation who live and : or work over offas dyke add to their adopted English local communities in the same way as Bill and his chums do here ….

…..I’m sure we wouldn’t wish them to be known as ‘ Cymry fach ‘ ? …as in the ‘ Taffy was a Welshman and Taffy was a theif ‘ ditty we havr had to put up with 🤔

BleEiDi?
BleEiDi?
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill

Wales IS a special place for the Welsh people and IS reserved for our priorities, thanks for pointing that out.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill

The first sentence of your comment betrays your real colonial attitudes towards this country.

Second homes isn’t just a problem in Wales. It is an issue in places like Yorkshire, Devon, Cornwall and the Lake District.

The people of Whitby have overwhelmingly voted to exclude outsiders from purchasing new builds in the area.

Would you say they are being discriminatory or anti-English? Of course not! It only ever seems to be a problem when Wales attempts to do something about it, doesn’t it?

JNRM
JNRM
5 months ago

Firstly, Those people who let out their holiday homes for more than 70 days per annum and have recently moved to business rates from council tax, have done so because that is the HMRC ruling. They are not avoiding tax, they are being compliant. I would add that most of the holiday let owners in Wales are Locals!!! Secondly, two independent studies by Swansea and London Universities concluded that Inward Migration, not second homes, is the root cause of house price inflation in Wales. The Welsh Government and their head in the sand followers should stop blaming genuine second home… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
5 months ago

Our Government is there for us the people of Wales and hiking the council tax on second homes may just be the start of what is needed to protect us from outside financial intimidation. I have not researched what happens, or not, in other bordering nations but answer me this. Do wealthy Germans drive Austrians out of their country by financial intimidation or wealthy Swedes drive out Norwegians? Add your own examples but I’m as sure as I can be that because my suggested potential victim nations I’ve picked here are FREE STANDING INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES I’ll bet it is a… Read more »

BleEiDi?
BleEiDi?
5 months ago

And when will the new houses be built?
Why are we arguing about secondhome tax hike when it’s already done.
Now move on to the actual job at hand and increase the housing stock to match the shortfall of people needing houses.

Am I being over simplistic?

untill we have enough houses then people will be without homes.

Bob johnson
Bob johnson
5 months ago

Just sold my fthl due to the anti business attitudes of the Welsh government and their one size fits all attitude. They could have held referendums as they do in England for problem areas yet choose to apply this model

It sold to a person from Milton Keynes. So that’s another local property not bought by a local, at least my property was available for visiting relatives which it was frequently. Now they have only yurts to stay in

Ar y mynydd
Ar y mynydd
5 months ago

I’m a farmer in inland Wales, a part of Wales entirely unpromoted by Visit Wales and outside the national parks . For decades the Welsh government, and before that the Welsh Office, encouraged us to diversify and one of the suggested avenues of diversification was converting old barns into cottages for a self catering accomodation business. We have done that, built a business that provides work and income for local people. We get guests from all places and one of our main winter sources is groups of urban people coming for weekend parties. Now the WG in their wisdom have… Read more »

Paul Anthony
Paul Anthony
5 months ago

Let anyone by Welsh property. Inclusivity and diversity rocks!

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Anthony

The problem is one of colonisation, not inclusivity, nor diversity. Nice try.
It’s also about the need for WG legislation to find solutions to this country’s housing crisis.
And “buy” has a “y” in it.

Last edited 5 months ago by Rhosddu

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