North West Wales

Gwynedd considers council tax hike on second homes

The Gwynedd village of Abersoch is popular with second home owners Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The Gwynedd village of Abersoch is popular with second home owners

The county with the highest number of second homes in Wales has launched a poll on whether it should increase council tax on the properties.

Gwynedd council, which has almost 5,000 second homes, had warned a potential loophole could make councils worse off.

The authority has now said it expects to make a decision in the "coming months".

Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Ynys Môn and Conwy have all increased council tax for second homes.

The Welsh Government has given councils the power to charge up to 100% above the normal council tax rate on second homes from the 2017-18 financial year.

'Housing need'

Gwynedd council said it has seen a trend of second homes being transferred from the council tax regime to being "self-catering units".

These properties are then commercially let, while paying reduced business rates and avoiding the premium - which could result in councils losing tax income.

An estimated 23,000 homes in Wales are empty or used as second homes.

Dafydd Edwards, Gwynedd council's head of finance, said: "If Gwynedd council decided to introduce a council tax premium on such properties, it is estimated that the change would generate a significant sum of money.

"This sum could then for example be used to help meet local housing needs and protect local services at a time when budgets are being dramatically reduced."

The consultation is open until 7 November.

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