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Pembrokeshire second home owners seek council tax exemptions

(Main Picture: Tenby, Gareth Davies Photography)

A CALL to hear the number of people seeking council tax exemptions since Pembrokeshire brought in a 200 per cent premium for second homes is to be heard next week.

Pembrokeshire had been operating a 100 per cent council tax premium for second homes, effectively a double rate, along with a 25-100 per cent premium for empty properties, depending on the length of vacancy.

However, in December councillors backed a 200 per cent council tax premium, effectively a treble rate, for second homes, and sliding scale system for empty properties of between 100 and 300 per cent premium.

Since that rise, effective from the start of this financial year, second home-owners have been faced with hefty council tax bills, as much as £11,000 in some cases, with some even contemplating suicide, a support group has said.

A call for information related to the premium will now be heard at the May 9 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council.

County Councillor Di Clements (Pic: Pembrokeshire County Council)

Martletwy county councillor, and Conservative group leader of the council, Cllr Di Clements will ask:

“Can the Cabinet member for Finance [Cllr Alec Cormack] please provide me with the number of properties that have applied for a council tax exemption since the delivery of this year’s council tax bill?

“This should be split out by properties that were charged a second homes premium and properties which were not charged a second homes premium.”

Cllr Cormack is expected to provide an answer at that meeting.

‘Abject misery’

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Pembrokeshire Second Homes Support Group, run by Chris Morgan, formerly of Pembroke Dock and Siân Evans of Cardiff, was formed “from a need to inform reassure and assist members to cope with the latest increase in the council tax second homes premium from 100 per cent to 200 per cent”.

They have previously said: “As the council tax demands for 2024-25 arrive, we have discovered massive increases. Typical council tax bills are running between £5,000 and £11,000. We believe that in the extensive meetings and debate concerning the 2024-2025 budget, the effect of these premiums on those paying them has been overlooked.”

In a message to Pembrokeshire County Council, the group said: “We have been disregarded in this matter, despite the fact that your budget relies on us.  Being the lowest council tax in the land seems to be the goal, but at our expense.”

On the issue of the premium rise, Chris said: “The picture of abject misery and hardship is unfolding as we speak with at least one so-called second home-owner contemplating suicide.

“These are not Rachman types caught up in this, but ordinary folk committed to our county and of long standing. More often than not, like myself, part of the diaspora.”