A CONSULTATION has opened on whether owners of long-term empty homes and second homes in Monmouthshire should have to pay additional council tax.
Welsh councils have been able to charge double the rate of council tax on such homes since 2017 but changes made last year allow that premium to be increased to 300 per cent of a county’s standard council tax rate.
The move to seek views on the increased charges was agreed by the council’s Labour cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday, January 18.
Caldicot Castle councillor Rachel Garrick, the cabinet member for resources, said any additional revenue would be used to support those without a home.
But the council also hopes additional charges could result in more homes being made available for full time occupancy.
The councillor said: “We are asking to move forward to find out whether Monmouthshire residents feel it is proportionate to consider an increase in council tax on empty and second home properties.”
Though the council could introduce a 300 per cent premium, the cabinet was told there is no proposed rate for any additional increase as yet and the level of any extra charge would be influenced by the consultation.
Council records suggest there are some 400 long-term empty houses in the county, and around 190 second, or holiday, homes.
Leader of the opposition Conservative group, Mitchel Troy and Trellech councillor Richard John, asked if the cabinet had considered the impact on the tourism industry.
Abergavenny Cantref member Sara Burch, the cabinet member for communities, replied: “The purpose of the consultation is to understand any negative affects and weigh up the consideration of raising much needed revenue.”
She said any extra funds would come from those “fortunate to have two homes.”
She said the council would “need to be careful of the impact on tourism” and that its Mon Life leisure service has already done “detailed work” on various charges impacting tourism, including changes to business rates, and that “there is still work to be done.”
But she said most holiday homes would still be subject to business rates, rather than council tax, and others such as farm conversions that have the number of days they can be occupied restricted by planning conditions will be exempt from being charged a premium.
Council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby, who represents Llanelly Hill, said the ultimate decision on whether premiums should be charged will be made by the full council.
She said: “This is for consultation and does not commit us to carrying it (a premium) out and it will come to the full council.”
If introduced the earliest the council could charge a premium would be from April 1 next year, for the 2024/25 financial year, but if it does wish to introduce the charge must agree to do so by April 1 this year.
The council has also said it will seek to notify all rate payers affected by the premium to give them as much advance notice of the change as possible.
Further information on the proposals can be found at https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/council-tax-premiums-consultation2023/.
Views must be submitted by February 16 by completing an online form which can be found on that page of the council’s website.