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