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Welsh First Minister leading crackdown on holiday homes admits to owning a ‘chalet’

·3-min read
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images Europe
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images Europe

The Welsh First Minister leading the crackdown on second homes has a Pembrokeshire holiday 'chalet' that will be exempt from his Government's new higher tax charges.

Mark Drakeford has admitted to owning a holiday ‘chalet’ just as the Welsh Government launched a crackdown on second homes and holiday lets.

At a press conference this week, Mr Drakeford and Plaid' Cymru's Adam Price vowed to help first-time buyers by reducing the number of second homeowners in Wales.

When asked about a chalet he and his family own in Pembrokeshire, however, Mr Drakeford said the property was “not counted as a second home” as it cannot be lived in all year round, although he admitted he had used second homes in the past.

“Most people will be familiar listening to this, if you have a caravan you can occupy it between March and October but not the rest of the year,” he said.

“I have had, or our family has had, I think it will be 27 years this year, a chalet in Pembrokeshire which is occupied on the same terms. You can occupy it some of the year but not the rest of the year.”

Mr Price, who owns two homes – one in Cardiff and one in his constituency – said he looked forward to “streamlining” his life once he left politics. “Of course, I've stayed in hotels, B&Bs and holiday lets in Wales and other parts of the world,” he said. “This isn't about saying this is wrong it's about getting balance.”

The plans announced on Monday include changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer, statutory licensing scheme for all holiday lets and plans for local authorities to increase land transaction tax rates on second homes and holiday lets.

Mr Drakeford said: "Tourism is vital to our economy but having too many holiday properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not make for healthy local communities and prices people out of the local housing market.

"There is no single, simple solution to these issues. Any action we take must be fair. We do not want to create any unintended consequences, which could destabilise the wider housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy."

However, Mr Drakeford said properties such as his ‘chalet’ were exempt from council tax premiums. In March, the Welsh Government announced plans to raise the maximum level at which local authorities can set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties from 100pc to 300pc in April 2023.

Premiums were paid on 23,000 properties this year, according to the Government website. Under current rules, properties available to rent for at least 140 days – and are actually rent for at least 70 – pay rates rather than council tax.

This threshold will increase in April next year, meaning properties will need to be available to rent for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 in a year. Mr Drakeford said the crackdown on second homes was not intended to discourage holiday lets or tourism.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The First Minister has been clear about this issue. Properties which are prohibited from year-round occupancy are exempt from council tax premiums on second homes, which were first introduced in 2016.”

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