SENIOR Ceredigion councillors have backed a rise in the county’s second homes tax premiums to 100 per cent, with a further increase – to 150 per cent – to follow.
Ceredigion currently has a 25 per cent premium on both second homes and empty properties, while neighbouring authority Pembrokeshire currently has a 100 per cent premium for second homes.
New Welsh Government local tax rules now allow local authorities being to collect council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties at up to 300 per cent.
Ceredigion, and neighbouring Pembrokeshire, recently held public consultations on potential changes to second home and empty property council tax premiums, with senior Pembrokeshire councillors backing a 200 per cent premium in the case of second homes.
Members of Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on December 5, unanimously backed a recommendation to increase in the premium on second homes in two tranches: to 100 per cent, effective from April 1 of next year, and to 150 per cent from April 1, 2025.
Members also unanimously backed increases in the empty properties tax premium, from the current 25 per cent, to 100 per cent for properties empty for up to five years, 150 per cent for five-ten years, and 200 per cent for over ten years.
Cabinet backing takes the form of a recommendation to the full council meeting of December 14, where a final decision will be made, with the same criteria also applying in Pembrokeshire.
At the December 5 meeting, Cllr Alun Williams said he had received heartfelt letters from second home-owners, many from other parts of Wales, describing their contribution to the local economy, but stressed the economic contribution of local people, adding: “How can it possibly be right that some people have two homes when local people struggle?”
He said the second homes issue was more than a Wales issue, more many English authorities in tourist areas looking at a 100 per cent premium, adding: “Any authorities charging less would be placing themselves in a vulnerable position in becoming a magnet for second homes.”
Cabinet member and councillor for New Quay – which has the highest rate of second homes in the county – Cllr Matthew Vaux welcomed the proposed empty property premium increase, citing examples of properties in his own village that had been empty for decades.
On second homes, he said the higher premium rates of neighbouring authorities was one of his factors for him supporting a rise, saying: “Otherwise we become a honeypot for ever more increases in this.”
Aberaeron councillor Elizabeth Evans said many long-term second home-owners in her ward were “embedded” into the community, adding: “The divide is not there between local people and second home-owners”.
Trefeurig councillor Caryl Roberts said the proposed increase was an “opportunity for us here, as people in Ceredigion, to stand up for ourselves, to be proud of Ceredigion, and insist people pay for the chance to be here”.
She added: “It is a luxury to have two houses when there are people sleeping on the street without one house.”
The recent Ceredigion public consultation saw 1,403 responses, the majority (72 per cent) of those not owning a long-term empty property thought it was appropriate to increase the premium; with a majority (85 per cent) of those owning such a property against an increase.
On second homes, just over half of respondents who did not own one thought an increase was appropriate, favouring an increase to 100 per cent, or even 150, with 94 per cent of second home-owners not wanting an increase.
Areas with the highest proportion of second homes in the county are mostly coastal, the highest being New Quay, with a 27.2 per cent rate, followed by Llangrannog 17.1, Borth 14.1, Pontarfynach 11, Penbryn 9.6, Aberaeron 9.1, and Aberporth 8.4.
Long-term empty properties were greatest in more urban areas: Aberporth 2.2 per cent, Aberystwyth 1.8, Cardigan 1.5, and Llandysul 1.5.