Sunday, 27 October 2019

Y Senedd should realise Second Homes loophole is a social issue.

The issue of second homes is one that affects communities from Orkney to the Cornwall  and you can easily argue beyond the shores of these Islands.

The benefits are questionable but i is clear that they price out local families and we  real need a new policy not just on a Wales bias , but throughout Europe.

For Wales i has the additional problem that it Y Fro Gymraeg used to refer to the linguistic area in Wales where the Welsh language is used by the majority or a large part of the population; it is the heartland of the Welsh language and second (holiday homes ) clearly have an adverse affect on the strength of Cymraeg, but we should not forget that it can be said that even in English speaking communities the local culture and way of life is adversely  affected.

This article in the Guardian gives an insight to the whole of the problem in the whole of the  UK read it ,

The BBC report that
A law meant to help councils combat the effects of second home ownership on communities is doing exactly the opposite, it has been claimed.
Since 2016, councils have been able to raise a premium on council tax on second homes, with money used to boost affordable housing.
But rising numbers of second homes are being designated as businesses, meaning owners pay no council tax at all.
The Welsh Government said councils are best placed to address the issue.
Abersoch, Gwynedd is well known as the "second home capital" of north Wales. A beach hut could set you back over £100,000 with houses selling for far more.
There are worries buying is out of the question for many local young people
Rhys Elvins runs Abersoch Quality Homes, managing around 90 holiday homes within a five mile radius.A growing family business, this company prides itself in giving home owners and holidaymakers a personal service.
Around half of its clients designate their homes as businesses which means they pay no local taxes, as long as their holiday home is let for 70 days a year and available to let for 140 days. As small businesses, many are also exempt from paying business rates.
Mr Elvins told the BBC Sunday Politics Wales: programme


"I'd say it's fair. I wouldn't call it a loophole."It's the way the properties are staggered in terms of council and business rates - if a property is making an income then its considered a small business. They're bringing in money and people who are spending money in the local area so I consider it to be OK".
Well in the words of Mandy Rice Davies 

"Well he would, wouldn't he?"

Plaid Cymru has been campaigning for a change to the law.The party's Arfon assembly member Sian Gwenllian called it an "unfair loophole" and said it added to pressures on housing for local people, with prices becoming "completely unaffordable".
She added: "They have no choice but to leave the area or live in poor rented accommodation.
"There are 2,000 people on social register waiting for housing in Gwynedd, then you have another 1,000 who have found a way of paying no tax at all. It's scandalous that this is allowed to happen."
 At nearby Llanengan, local councillor and pub landlord John Hughes thinks amending planning laws to make it easier for young people to build their own homes is one answer."The future for our youngsters is very bleak, we've got the let them build on their own land, we've got to let them build a house that's suitable."
It's an issue close to his heart, with one of his daughters choosing to move to New Zealand.
"She can't afford to live in Abersoch, she's renting at the moment - she's a chef with schools and enjoys it but there's nothing for her here, she can't afford the rent. I'm sad, because I don't want to see her go."]
 Gwynedd Council has around 5,000 second homes - more than other county in Wales.The Welsh Local Government Association's rural forum wants the Welsh Government to take action.
Gwynedd council leader Dyfrig Siencyn said: "We are asking Welsh Government to make an amendment to the local government finance act so we prevent domestic dwellings from transferring into business properties - which then means they do not pay any tax at all in most cases".
The Welsh Government said it did not agree that there was a loophole in the law.
A spokesperson said there was "specific letting criteria which owners must meet for their property to be treated as self-catering accommodation",
"Local authorities are best placed to address this issue and that is why we have given them the discretionary power to charge premiums to up to 100% on the council tax of long-term empty and second homes in their area to use alongside the other powers available to them," the government added.

This a pathetic response perhaps they  see this as a "Nationalist" agenda , but this goes beyond Wales

This from the Guardian article I mentioned 
Properties are empty, so the community is empty’
Second homes destroy the fabric of the town and spoil the very things that made it attractive to the second home owner in the first place.
Where I live properties are empty, so the community is empty. Those who visit don’t participate in the life of the town. In winter, shops close because there are fewer people, which is true of coastal towns anyway, but worse when the properties are holiday homes.
Local families can’t live in town, so the schools are under subscribed, there’s very little police presence because the population of permanent residents is small. We believe in freedom and democracy and each person’s second home is still their castle, but perhaps there should be a quota allowed – designated numbers allowed in each road so that whole streets are not denuded of the local people. I would like to see a law where people had to live in them at least 190 days a year.
Name witheld, 60, Whitstable

The Lake District National Park Authority has pioneer  the idea of increasing the  huge rise in council tax for existing second homes, but the loophole may avoid this.

But it is appalling that our own government in Cardiff Bay is burying its head in the sand , and realise this is not a nationalistic issue ( though the the issue of Cymraeg is important)  but a social one.that it can ignore and it must address it

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