Welsh Government Written Statement on second homes

Wales Gov welsh dragonWelsh Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James has made a written statement concerning second homes in Wales, indicating ‘commitment to a range of policy initiatives’.

 … everyone should have a decent home…

… impact of second homes…on the Welsh language…. affecting communities and provokes strong feeling…

Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government writes:

This Government is clear that everyone should have a decent home, an aim that has been brought into sharp focus during the pandemic. Our long-standing commitment to increasing the supply of affordable homes has been matched by our record investment and reflected in the 20,000 affordable homes that will have been built this term.

We are, however, acutely aware of growing concern in some parts of Wales about the impact of second homes on communities, access to housing and affordability and the impact this has on the Welsh language. Whilst not a pan-Wales issue, it is one that is affecting communities and provokes strong feeling at local or hyper-local levels.

The Welsh Government has already taken decisive action – providing local authorities with the significant flexibility to use a number of different Welsh Government schemes, including Social Housing Grant (SHG), to help address their local housing needs. Indeed, we have pre-empted and responded to the current situation in a number of ways:

  • Through taxation and ensuring a fair contribution. We are the only UK administration which has enabled council tax premiums to be levied on second homes….

We are committed to evolving how we address the issues, and we are already doing just that in a number of ways:

  • Research. Making an evidenced case is essential to achieving the right outcomes. In that vein I welcomed the report prepared for Gwynedd and Cardiff Councils by the Gwynedd and Anglesey Joint Planning Service.  We also anticipate the imminent release of a paper by Dr Seimon Brooks commissioned for the Hywel Teifi Academy by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.  Both of these papers will help our understanding of the current situation and recommendations for further action.
  • Much of the extant research tends to describe what has been done, rather than make an assessment of interventions’ impact. With that in mind, we are  commissioning a further, complementary, piece of research to make a more qualitative assessment of interventions elsewhere. This will help us understand the impact of interventions in other parts of the UK and beyond….
  • One of the key contributions planning can make is ensuring that there is adequate supply of sites for new homes for local people. We are developing a new methodology for understanding the need for local market and affordable housing which will introduce consistency into the process.
  • We are exploring the potential for a statutory registration scheme for all holiday accommodation, including short-term lets. We are working with stakeholders to identify the costs and benefits of such a scheme in Wales, not just in the context of better monitoring and control of self-catering, but to ensure a level playing field for all accommodation providers. As part of that, we are monitoring the Scottish system now being rolled out.  The Ministerial Tourism Taskforce reviewed an initial paper earlier this month ahead of considering the commission of further work and consultation with industry, local authority and other stakeholders.
  • We have set out our programme of work to reform the local government finance system in Wales. We have already made a series of short and medium term improvements to both the council tax and non-domestic rates systems and we have set out our ambitions to explore more fundamental reforms over the longer term. We do not rule out further legislative changes but only with a full understanding of their potential impact. The local tax system generates £3billion from over 1.5 million properties across Wales. This revenue is vital to the delivery of all our local services and it is essential that the system can continue to operate sustainably across the country.

Some of this work is longer-term and beyond the scope of the current Senedd term.

But our commitment is clear.

Welsh Ministers have taken significant steps in this Senedd term and we will continue to work across the Senedd and with local authorities and others as we seek to develop the right solutions.

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