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Second homes premiums to fund Anglesey housing schemes

Anglesey County Council

A SCHEME to help Anglesey residents find housing through the use of second homes council tax premiums funding has been agreed.

Anglesey County Council’s executive accepted two housing recommendations during its meeting today, Tuesday, May 30.

Details were presented in the “The use of Second Homes Premium Funding,” report authored by Elliw Llyr, and presented by portfolio holder Cllr Gary Pritchard and head of housing service Ned Michael. One of two recommendation included an agreement to increase the maximum grant for bringing back empty properties into use from £20,000 – £25,000.

The move was prompted by the council’s recognition of “increasing costs of labour and goods,” the report said. The island’s second homes premium was currently 75 percent on empty homes and 100 percent on second homes.

The report stated that £1.502m of Council Tax Premium finance was available for allocation. The meeting heard how since 2017 the council had adopted a policy aimed at supporting local people.

It included converting empty properties into homes, and providing equity loans for first time buyers. A sum of £170k was allocated at the start of the scheme and increased to £696k by 2022-23.

The scheme had been “successful,” with this year’s budget committed to grants approved or in process. The report recommended the funding should be used for schemes including shared equity loans, a subsidy scheme, making open market rents more affordable and a home buying and ‘rent first’ scheme

Use of the funds for getting empty houses back into use had been “very successful” and the council hoped to provide support for more.

In October, 2022, the council launched the Anglesey Homebuyer Scheme, helping buyers, through shared equity, purchase homes on the open market.

The report noted it had eight active applications, one assessment was currently approved, with another application underway, but four applications had been withdrawn – two unable to secure a deposit and unable to proceed. The applicants had been aged from 21 – 44 and from across the island.

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The scheme had been “slow to come to fruition” due to the economic climate last year, and “difficulties” for applicants accessing mortgages. However, the council was now seeing “things starting to move” and hoped the first purchases “will complete very soon.”

Members formally approved “using the funding generated through the Second Homes Premium for schemes highlighted in paragraph ‘number 10.0’ and to “increase the maximum grant for brining back empty properties back into use to £25,000.”

Paragraph 10.0 included:

  • Empty Homes Grants (of up to £25,000) to bring empty homes back into use, with 32 cases on the books and an allocation of £675,000.
  • Shared Equity Loans for first time buyers on the open market, 10 cases, with an £390,000.
  • The Welsh Government Empty Homes Scheme, 16 cases, at £38,000.
  • A subsidy scheme so that open market rents were affordable to local people, 10 cases, £50,000,
  • A scheme to purchase homes on the open market to be let as “intermediate or rent first properties” would be developed in 2024,/25, with funding for the role of an empty homes assistant, £49,000.

Cllr Gary Pritchard told the meeting: “We wanted to make sure that everyone has somewhere to call home.” Schemes included “bringing back empty homes, buying up former council houses and establishing shared equity schemes helped people to get a foot on the housing ladder.

“We are investing the money from those who can afford more than one house, to help others who can’t afford a home to get a foot on the housing ladder,” he told the meeting.

The executive also agreed to delay part of the recommendation – a financial ‘allocation’ to the Planning Service worth £300,000 – until more information could be established.