Welsh Government crack down on second homes owners claiming covid-19 grants with new rules

Barmouth viewed from Fairbourne. Picture by Bex Walton (CC BY 2.0).

The Welsh Government have introduced stricter rules on second home owners in Wales who want to claim business grants set up to help companies hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

Opposition parties had called on the Welsh Government to change their guidelines so that owners of second homes do not have access to business support grants of up to £25,000.

There was concern that second home owners who had deliberately converted to business rates to avoid paying higher council taxes were applying for the financial support announced by the government following the development of Covid-19.

The new Welsh Government rules mean that second home owners will need to meet a number of new criteria before being eligible for a grant.

As of 20 April 2020, in relation to self-catering accommodation, properties will not be eligible for grant unless the following criteria are met:

  • The self-catering accommodation can produce two years of trading accounts directly preceding the current financial year of the business
  • The self-catering accommodation must actually have been let for a period of 140 days or more in the financial year 2019-20
  • The self-catering accommodation business must be the primary source of income for the owner (minimum threshold is 50%).

“Local authorities have full discretion to request and examine trading business accounts, booking lists and self-assessment tax returns submitted to HMRC for the financial year ending 31 March 2019 if additional evidence is required to demonstrate that this criteria is met,” the Welsh Government said.

“In cases where local authorities have decided to request additional evidence and the evidence shows that the scheme criteria are not met, local authorities are required to withhold payment of grant.”

 

‘Unethical’

The move comes after Gwynedd Council’s Leader, Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, said he had contacted the Minister, Julie James, to highlight the fact that  second home owners could claim business grants.

“It is unethical that wealthy individuals who own second homes have access to this financial aid package from the Government,” Dyfrig Siencyn said last week.

“It goes against the whole ethos of the support aid, a package to ensure a viable economy in an uneconomic period due to this disease outbreak that is spreading through the country.

“This grant should assist small rural businesses in Gwynedd that have been directly affected by Government laws that prevent companies and businesses from trading. That is the reason I have asked Gwynedd Council’s legal department to look at a specific clause within the business guidelines, so that it differentiates between a legitimate rural business and second home owners.”

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Jase
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Jase

I have a 2nd home owner to the right of me and a welsh nationalist to the left of me

The 2nd home owner is more considerate cleaner neighbour, prefer them any day of the week

Wrexhamian
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Wrexhamian

(Yawn.)…er, truly fascinating.

Ceri
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Ceri

Soooo… Welsh nationalists are… Messy? Trollin’ ain’t what it used to be

Leigh Richards
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Leigh Richards

And this makes it the ten thousandth fake profile created by someone with the surname ‘protic’ 😉

K. K
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K. K

I have no doubt that the second home owner is cleaner especially given that they don’t live there for around 8 months of the year or more.

I know what you mean about Welsh nationalist neighbours though and I too tire of them. Aside from deliberately speaking Welsh when I put my rubbish out they allow their pet dragons to defecate all over my lawn too. If it wasn’t for the fact he had a sword and a suit of armour on I’d probably have a word with him.

K. K
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K. K

Anyway, how is Aberystwyth these days?

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

A round of applause for Dyfrig Siencyn, and for the Welsh Government for actually acting in Cymru’s interests — again!

Bridget Wood
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Bridget Wood

Hope this takes place with immediate effect.

Jenny
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Jenny

Glad to see the Welsh Government acting so quickly. Now the local authorities need to follow up immediately.

Jane
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Jane

If they are not a business they shouldn’t be allowed to register as one.
If they have been accepted as a business abd are paying business rates then surely its not a loophole They qualify!

Dont like leeches
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Dont like leeches

They have registered for business rates to avoid paying council tax as they would be subject to business rate relief so dont pay anything which means they get the benefit of council services without contributing anything. The majority of second home owners do not have a structured business nor employ any workers. The income they get is secondary to their main income, which is fine, nothing wrong with that, but it is not a business and they are not suffering hardship and should not be entitled to a grant of £10000 ! Especially when most wont achieve that amount in… Read more »

Caroline
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Caroline

How do you know that the majority of second home owners won’t have a structured business? Can you quote the source of your evidence? I beg to differ!!! How do you know that we won’t suffer hardship? We are currently forking out thousands to refund cancelled bookings. We still have all our bills and loans to pay. We contribute plenty to the economy . We are taxed a ridiculous amount to buy our property and we pay tax on any profit and we Make as well as bring ing money into tourist areas!!! The government state we have to pass… Read more »

Caroline
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Caroline

Kind of rules out most holiday rentals i expect. Glad i bought in England. Why are the welsh so hostile to tourists? As an owner, we still have loans, second Mortgages, gas , electric, Internet, tv license, water rates , bin/ refuse collection and insurance to pay for. We were booked solidly from April until mid September, to refund all those bookings would take more than the grant. We stay in our property maybe one night, 3 or 4 times a year – to stock up on welcome box materials and check up on any maintenance tasks. We Are employed… Read more »

Wrexhamian
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Wrexhamian

Tourism has led to anglicisation and demographic change, to the point where some coastal towns and vllages have so many settlers that local people are almost in a minority. Tourism, and its offshoots, second homes and colonisation, have been of minimal economic bebefit to Cymru and have turned the country into a playground for people from beyond the clawdd. There are exceptions, namely those people who recognise Cymru’s uniqueness and immerse themselves in the culture and language, but most act as if they are in a more civilised, less crowded, version of home. The anger is the result of Wales’s… Read more »