Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Arfon Siân Gwenllian has secured cross-party support in the Senedd for her campaign to address an anomaly which permits some second home owners to avoid paying council tax on their property.
Nearly eight hundred second home owners in Gwynedd have registered their properties as small businesses, making them exempt from paying both council tax and business rates. This, at a time when there are 2,000 families currently on the housing waiting register in the county.
During Questions to the Minister for Finance in the Senedd, Siân Gwenllian AM put forward an easily enacted legislative solution being backed by nine Local Authorities in Wales through the WLGA which would fix the current anomaly.
Siân Gwenllian AM said,
‘Nine local authorities in Wales have proposed a simple solution to the increasing problem of second homes avoiding paying council tax.’
‘It’s within the Welsh Government’s power to adapt Section 66 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 through secondary legislation.’
‘Fundamentally we need to remove the criteria set out in Section 66 relating to self-catering units and replace it with a principle that every property being used as a domestic property remains so, whatever its use.’
‘Around 800 second home owners are exploiting a legal anomaly to avoid paying any council tax at all by registering their properties as small businesses. To rub salt in the wound, they are also exempt from paying business rates under a rate relief scheme for small businesses.’
‘I’m pleased the Minister is alert to this issue and that discussions are taking place to drive this matter forward. Gwynedd Council are also taking a proactive lead in lobbying to prevent second home owners from moving their houses from the council tax rate to the business tax rate.’
‘This, after all is an issue which affects the public purse across Wales. I have already had positive discussions with Gwynedd Council and will continue to campaign for this solution to be enacted.’
‘Whilst local councils are forced to increase council tax to plug the shortfall in their budgets, it’s completely unacceptable that some home-owners are able to benefit from local services whilst paying nothing into the local coffers.’