LOCAL politicians have been urged to use their new tax powers to tackle the second homes crisis in Wales.
In a rally to highlight the problem in Llangefni on Saturday, GWLAD – the Welsh Independence Party – said that councils now had the power to vary the council tax charge on second homes, and it was high time to make real use of that power.
The rally, arranged by the group Gorau i Gymru, addressed by both Plaid and GWLAD, drew a crowd around 60 people concerned about the proliferation of second homes on Ynys Môn, and the lack of housing for local people.
GWLAD want to introduce a 500% council tax hike for second homes in Wales – with the money raised then being used to build more homes for local people.
At present, even councils controlled by Plaid have only introduced negligible additional tax charges of 25% (Ynys Môn) and 50% (Gwynedd) on second homes.
But with Swansea City Council having introduced an additional 100% charge, we now have an odd situation where two nationalist councils are charging much less than a Labour-run council.
‘These pitiful charges are totally ineffective and just don’t work – we all know that’ said GWLAD leader, Gwyn Wigley Evans.
‘Wales has got minimal tax-varying powers at present, but when you do have the power, such as the right to vary council tax on holiday homes, you have got to make full use of it’.
‘It has to hurt the pocket, it has to make a difference, it has to stop the tsunami – otherwise it’s just a waste of time’.
Mr. Evans said GWLAD’s policy of a 500% tax hike on holiday homes was just plain common sense which could solve two problems at the same time.
‘Not only will it act as a huge disincentive for further holiday homes, the money raised can be used to actually build more FIRST homes for local people’ he said.
GWLAD estimate that such an additional charge on the 3,000 holiday homes on Ynys Môn could lead to a £18 million windfall for the local authority every single year.
They say the sum could be used to build a 100 homes for local people a year, either to buy or rent.
The county council could also use the money to buy properties on the open market for the same purpose.
‘Our county councils could make real use of this tax policy tomorrow if they so wished – they have the power to do so’ said Mr. Evans.
‘Perhaps the big question is: why are Plaid not doing this on Ynys Môn and Gwynedd, where they have been in control for some time?’
‘Is it a political decision, or is it because some of their councillors have got vested interests in second homes?’
We’ll leave that question for readers to ponder for themselves.