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October 19 2016 and updated with article 2 on October 26 2016


2 Articles Against The Raising Of 2nd Home Council Tax - The Second Home Tax Debate


No.1: From The Owner Of An Abersoch Second Home
I have been a second home owner in Abersoch for many, many years, so it was with some disquiet that I saw that proposals had been approved by the Welsh Assembly, that gave powers to the local authorities in Wales to potentially force second home owners to pay more council tax than local residents and possibly as much as 100% more!

Whilst I accept that any area where there is a high proportion of second homes does face some issues for local communities and especially in areas of Wales who are trying to preserve their language and heritage, I would argue that to raise or double this tax would bring little or no benefit to Abersoch and could actually end up damaging the local economy.

Here are my arguments regarding the case of Abersoch…

- Second home owners already pay the same council tax as residents, however, we use less services throughout the year, so it could be argued that we are already fulfilling our financial obligations to the community by paying our way, in full.
It is worth reminding ourselves that for many years second home owners in the village were only liable to a 50% charge for rates. This was presumably an acknowledgement of the fact that such homeowners made only marginal use of the resources available and such a charge would therefore be regarded as equitable. It may also have been intended as an encouragement for outsiders to make an investment in the village and add to its overall prosperity. It is difficult to see why such arguments should now be, in effect, totally discredited.

- There is an argument that areas with lots of second homes see services such as post offices and schools close – as second home owners do not support local shops all year round and are a negative impact on school numbers. This argument may have some validity in other areas, however it falls down when you look at the case of Abersoch. The Post Office in Abersoch closed down, I am told, not due to the presence of second homes, but for other reasons and to think that Post Offices and banks will suddenly return to the village if the percentage of second homes declines, is naïve. One of the big reasons for the decline in shops and banks in all communities is the internet and the rise of the larger supermarkets – so, raising council tax will have no effect in Abersoch on the provision of local high street shops and services. Many locals and visitors will continue to shop out of the village for groceries (or have them delivered), use the internet for banking and it could be argued that the local grocers of Londis and Spar depend on the second home owners for a good part of their income.
Also, I am told, the number of primary age school children has increased in recent years in Abersoch and the local school has not seen a decline in numbers due to second homes, but due to some parents choosing to send their children elsewhere.
The doctors surgery in Abersoch faced closure, not due to any issue with second homes, but due to a lack of doctors wanting to live in Wales. If anything, the existence of second homes and additional part-time residents would be a strong argument for the retention of this facility, rather than a reason for its closure.
Abersoch is alive in the winter – many of the businesses stay open all winter as second home owners visit at that time of the year. In winter shops in the village must rely to a significant extent on second home owners - they can't depend on many of the caravan parkers as most parks close at the end of October for 4 months (and even the Warren closes for 6 weeks), nor on tourists staying in serviced accommodation as the few hotels and B&Bs are mostly closed – so who else – I’ll tell you - it's mostly us – the demonised second home owners! If you turn back the clock to when I first started coming to Abersoch, effectively nothing was open in the winter – from memory, the Post Office, Talafon and the Boatyard stayed open – not much else and it was virtually impossible to ever get a meal out in the village at that time of year. So to say that second home owners have had a negative effect on Abersoch’s high street is nonsense. The high street is now a thriving place though most of the year!

- What is the goal of potentially doubling the council tax? It appears that in some cases, the goal is one of reducing the percentage of second homes by effectively forcing second home owners to sell up. This is unfair and also discriminatory against those who come to the village, shop in local shops and provide income to the area.

- Will raising the council tax on second homes actually increase revenue for the council? There is a strong argument that says that tax rises equate to greater tax avoidance and the risk for the council is that more second home owners will look at the various loopholes which would mean they end up paying less than they are currently doing, which would mean a fall in revenue for the council.

- If the council did receive more revenue – can we wholeheartedly trust them to use it for the benefit of the area? When you look at Gwynedd’s council policy on local housing, which includes using the ridiculous “106” policy – a policy that effectively ghetto-ises local communities due to the fact that the owners with the 106 clause are unable to resell their property at the market value and makes it virtually impossible to move to other parts of the UK, as their house becomes unsellable and almost all banks won’t provide mortgage funding on such properties. So, if you want an example of how a Gwynedd housing policy actually harms local residents in terms of housing – here is one, a classic own goal scenario.
And what about the provision of social housing in Abersoch? How does any young villager with a desire to buy a house locally view recent attempts to build "affordable" houses in the village? With unsttinted approval?
Therefore, I ask the question again – can one be confident in the ability of the Council to spend any extra revenue wisely, effectively and for the benefit of local housing in Abersoch (which they are advised to do so by the Assembly) – as it could be argued that their past record does not support this. If anyone thinks that suddenly, magically, a whole plethora of new affordable homes or council houses will be built from the “extra” revenue, then they might be in for a shock. I would suggest that any extra revenue (if there is any) would go to other areas in Gwynedd – not “affluent” Abersoch.

- Ok, council tax doubles on second homes – what next? In a post council tax raising, uptopian village, what would actually change in Abersoch? The answer – probably absolutely nothing.
There would still be a shop that sells clothing in the premises that used to be a post office, a trendy clothes shop where HSBC used to be and probably another one where Nat West was. The doctors surgery would still be on restricted hours due to a shortage of doctors. Housing would still be unaffordable to most locals, not just due to the house prices, but because wages are so low in the area. It could be argued that the area needs better paid jobs – not tax rises, if the council wants to make a difference and preserve the Welsh language!
IF the council invested the money into rental accommodation, for locals, then that would be potentially of great benefit, but they have not even said that they would do this and you can bet your bottom dollar that any potential increase in revenue (IF it is an increase!) will get swallowed up elsewhere – especially, as a post-Brexit Wales may lose vast sums of money that used to pour into the area from Europe – remember “Objective one status” for this part of North Wales – all those signs everywhere saying “Project supported by European money. Who is going to replace that money – sums of money far in excess of what any increase in council tax might raise?

It is my argument that nothing will change in Abersoch, apart from the risk of the goodwill felt by all of us second-home owners towards the village being damaged and even lost - we bought our homes in good faith (in my case from a local) to enjoy the area, shop locally and to go home with wonderful memories of a spell in Abersoch and tell our friends and families what a great place it is to visit. The council risks souring that goodwill by creating the impression that we are rich, insensitive intruders deserving to be fleeced and used as an excuse for other failings in local government and changes in society in the modern era, that are way beyond all of our control.

I already pay my way. I am lucky that I will be able to afford to pay the potential increase in my council tax - however grudgingly and with real resentment. However, if anyone feels that my paying more will lead to some positive and beneficial change – I would urge you to think again. In the short term, no effect will be seen. In the longer, it can only be a decline in Abersoch's success and prosperity. Do please remember the old idiom about killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

No.2: From A Local Resident
I am another person against the proposals to increase council tax on second home owners. I am not a second home owner but a local, born and bred on Pen Llyn.

What an excellent article you posted on your news section by the person opposing the potential increase in council tax, I can only endorse what he/she has stated. I would like to add that without farming and tourism the Llyn peninsula would not survive in the modern era. Most farmers would not survive on farming alone and that is why most diversify into tourism with their caravan parks on their land and barn conversions used for holiday letting. This preserves their hard working lifestyle enabling their children to stay in the area helping their parents run their business. Sadly many locals do leave the area, not because they cannot afford a property but due to lack of decent well paid jobs, so those younger folk who want to better their lives have to leave for a better future, many returning when more prosperous in later life, to enjoy this beautiful part of Wales.


The council need to think very carefully about these proposals and as previously stated, second home owners already pay full rates for services they do not use throughout the year, this is fair, but to raise by a minimum of 25 percent is in my opinion discrimination against a British citizen who has the rights to move around and settle in Britain wherever they like on an equal footing to others. Without the second home owner this area would not prosper as it does today, the money these people bring into the local economy is enormous, spending in the shops, cafes, restaurants from as far as Barmouth in the west and along the coast up to Aberdaron. Just ask the proprietors whether their businesses would survive without the so called outsiders, I very much doubt they would.


The vast majority of second home owners use local builders, plumbers, electricians and joiners to carry out improvements on their properties and this sector is booming at the moment, with most builders employing more workforce to meet demand. Ask these craftsmen where the majority of their work comes from. I have a pretty good idea of what their answer would be!


The thought process behind Gwynedd's council tax proposals stating it will slow down the increase on second home owners is ludicrous it just won't happen and it won't decrease the value of these homes by a significant amount, certainly not to a level to make them affordable for locals. Decent jobs is what the local area needs but sadly due to the geographical position of Gwynedd I cannot see large businesses considering the possibility of moving to this region.


Therefore be thankful to tourism and what second home owners provide to Gwynedd as a whole.

Another warning to the council are the many 100's of properties that are used as holiday let property. These properties presently pay full domestic rates, but owners of these properties can apply to change to business rates, where the money is sent to Cardiff and not Gwynedd council and at the present time they get full business rate relief, so if this happens the council will lose out big time.


The views and opinions against the increase on council tax will probably fall on deaf ears but I do hope the council will take these comments seriously for the future prosperity of gwynedd




- For An Article In Favour Of The Proposed Raising Of 2nd Home Council Tax - click here.


- To have your say at the public consultation - click here.


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