Language campaigners have accused the Government of "belittling Wales’ communities” in its new consultation on local taxes for second homes and self-catering accommodation.

The Government's consultation, published yesterday, considers a range of solutions to the crisis, including possible changes to local taxes to support local authorities in managing the impact of second homes and self-catered accommodation in their areas.

However, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, the Welsh Language Society, say the consultation document is "merely seeking views on open-ended questions, instead of setting out the clear, decisive and radical steps needed".

Cymdeithas has called on the Government to take meaningful action by putting a cap on the number of second and holiday homes in any community.

Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith's sustainable communities group, Elin Hywel, said: “It is disheartening to see the Welsh Government downplaying the effects of the housing crisis across Wales by limiting its definition of geographical impact and the victims of the crisis.

"Rather than being a topic of debate and discussion, the housing crisis is a real threat to the ability of thousands of Welsh citizens to set up home.

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“In its patronising claim that the crisis is 'provoking strong feelings', the Government's consultation document belittles Wales’ communities by downplaying the seriousness of the crisis.

"Ordinary people across Wales are feeling increasingly desperate and are begging their Government to protect them from the effects of the open market that is ruining their communities and their chances of getting a home.

"The housing crisis is not an abstract issue, but is rather an injustice that has a direct impact on all aspects of daily life.”

The society is currently organising campaigns and protests against the housing crisis in Wales, holding a rally at the Tryweryn dam and displaying banners atop three of the country's highest summits. 

The group has organised another rally, this time on the steps of the Senedd, for November 13.

After putting the housing crisis high on the agenda of its recent election campaign, Plaid Cymru has also called for more immediate action.

Plaid Cymru's spokesperson for housing, Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “People are being priced out of their communities now and the crisis is worsening”.

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Plaid Cymru has previously demanded direct interventions to mitigate the housing crisis, including trebling the Land Transaction tax on purchases of second homes; changing planning laws to allow councils to impose a cap on the number of second homes; and closing the loophole that allows second homeowners to register their property as businesses in order to avoid paying the council tax premium.

Mr ap Gwynfor continued: “While the chance for communities to be heard via this consultation is, of course, welcome, my concern is that it masks the fact more immediate action could be taken now.

“For a start, the Welsh Government could act within existing legislation to create new classes of property so that short term lets and second homes could be accurately identified.

"In launching a consultation, the government has, at last, acknowledged there is a housing crisis but in failing to act where they can, they are allowing this crisis to get worse.

“Our communities should use this opportunity to have their voices heard, but the truth is that the Labour Government owes it to them to address the crisis with the seriousness and urgency it deserves - ensuring they can live and work in the area they call home before it’s too late.”

Launching the consultation, Welsh finance minister Rebecca Evans said: “We anticipate receiving a wide range of responses which will all inform our future policies on potential changes to local taxes so that we have a fairer system for everyone.”

The open consultation closes on 17 November 2021.

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