Council tax premiums on second homes in Pembrokeshire looks set to double with three quarters of the extra money raised – potentially around £2.3million a year – to be used for building more affordable homes.

The county council’s cabinet approved a recommendation to full council that the premium, currently set at 50 per cent, be increased to 100 per cent from April 2022 with the money collected to be split 75/25 between affordable home development and the enhancing Pembrokeshire fund.

Only one senior councillor, Tessa Hodgson, voted against the proposal, raising concerns about the “law of unintended consequences” and the risk second home-owners would change their properties to holiday lets and pay national non-domestic business rates instead (NNDR).

READ MORE: Second home tax premium in Flintshire could be reviewed

She also questioned whether families and young people actually wanted to live in some of the more rural and isolated coastal areas.

Cabinet member for finance, Cllr Bob Kilmister said it was incorrect that all money would be lost in that situation as the Welsh Government would pay the average Welsh council tax for that property – more than Pembrokeshire council tax, but less than the premium.

Cllr Paul Miller added that if properties were “switched” they would have to be let for a certain number of weeks a year and not just visited occasionally and “boarded up the rest of the year” so becoming “part of the economic prosperity of Pembrokeshire.”

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He, and other members, emphasised it was not about “xenophobic nonsense” or “demonising second home owners” but trying to address the real and pressing housing need in the county with tools available.

Members also wanted to know of Welsh Government plans on the issue, with an update due in the future, as well as highlighting the need to examine other mitigating measures through planning, licensing and covenants.

Cllr Michelle Bateman, cabinet member for housing, added it was a difficult decision but the amount of emails she got from residents in “dire housing need at the moment” was increasing and it wasn’t a case of not just finding a home they can afford but they “can’t find anything – full stop.”

Full council will be asked to decide on increasing the premium to 100 per cent, splitting proceeds 75 per cent to affordable housing and 25 per cent community grants, as well as keeping the empty home tax at the same level but using the money raised to bring more properties back into use.

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