A CONSERVATIVE politician has described policies to tackle second homes in Wales as a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ approach. 

James Evans, the Tory Member of Senedd for Brecon and Radnorshire, said he recognised second homes are a “problem” in Wales but claimed Welsh Government policies are putting tourism businesses at risk. 

He made the comments to the BBC’s Politics Wales programme which spoke with owners of holiday accommodation who said they fear the cumulative impact of policies to address second home ownership and other taxation policies will force them to sell up. 

The housing crisis in Wales has been thrust higher up the political agenda over the past year with protests having been staged over the impact of second homes on rural, usually coastal communities – as well as the attraction of the areas to those from further afield driving house prices beyond local earnings. 

As part of its cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru the Welsh Government agreed that councils can charge a council tax premium of up to 300 per cent on second homes, the premium had been capped at 100 per cent. 

It has also increased the number of days properties must be available for letting in a year, up from 70 to 182, if owners wish to register as a business rather than pay council tax. The change was a response to concerns houses could be reclassified as businesses – and likely qualify for business rates relief – due to council tax premiums. 

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Evans, who won the Brecon and Radnorshire seat at last year’s Senedd elections told the programme: “The Welsh Tourism Alliance have estimated that this could put hundreds of businesses out of operation this is all been put in place to address the second homes problem and let me be very clear, there is a problem with second homes in Wales but this is a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ legislation.  

“This is a poor policy. It is yet again the Welsh Government thinking they can solve a problem just by taxing their way out of it and that’s not right and it’s not right for our genuine businesses across Wales.” 

Powys council agreed a 75 per cent premium on second homes in February this year and it had previously run a consultation on hiking council tax for second homes in late 2020. 

Cllr Aled Davies, who had been the Conservative cabinet member for finance in Powys before this month’s elections, said that consultation had received 780 responses. 

Cllr Davies said: “The overall view from the consultation was negative to increasing the premium. 

“However, most of those who responded were people who own second homes.” 

In February Powys councillors were told increasing the premium to 75 per cent will increase the average council tax for each of 1,311 identified properties, to £3,310.45. 

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BBC Wales today reported that a couple who run holiday accommodation, at Llangattock near Crickhowell in Powys, had concluded the changing regulations would force them to sell up. 

Peter and Julia Hindley have six holiday cottages at their home which are currently available for 105 nights a year but said increasing their operating days would lead to higher VAT and business rates. 

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The couple said they have concluded they would need to sell up while Paul Martin, who rents out converted outbuildings at his home, also in Powys, said if he was forced to close he believed local homes would then be used for holiday accommodation, further increasing housing pressures. 

Figures from January 2021 show there are some 24, 873 second homes in Wales registered for council tax but figures could be higher as other properties may be registered for business rates. 

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