Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

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Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby JohnP1950 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:48 am

Sorry that this isn't exactly garden law, but it relates to properties and Council Tax so might be of interest to some members.

My Mother and Father used to live in Wales. Several years ago, ill health forced them to come and live with me in England, but they kept their house in Wales. They really couldn't bear to sell it, and we used to take them back there for holidays and weekends when we could. My father has since passed away.

Despite my mother owning only her house in Wales, it is now classed as a "second home" because she doesn't live there full time.

Unfortunately, the Welsh government have recently passed a law which allows the local authority to double the council tax payable on these so-called second homes. (Just to be clear, I don't mean they are removing a discount which previously applied. This particular council never offered a discount for unoccupied properties like some did, and Mom and Dad always had to pay the full council tax.) Now, however, the LA are allowed to charge an additional Council Tax Premium of up to 100% on "second home" owners - which are primarily English people.

The council have explained their reasons for applying this tax. They say there is a shortage of homes for local Welsh people and they want to use the tax laws to pressurize second home owners into selling up and moving back to England! (They don't put it quite as blatantly as that, but almost: there is, realistically, no other way one can interpret what they say.)

Does anyone else see the unfairness (racism/nationalism?) in that? It's not as though she is a high-earning executive with a string of luxury homes. My 88 year old mother only owns one home and lives on a very meagre pension. But she now has to pay double tax (an extra £1200 + a year) simply because she is unable to live in her home full time. She is absolutely devastated because they are forcing her to sell the home that she shared with my Dad, a place which has so many memories for her. We're all pretty disgusted by it. How can that sort of injustice be perpetrated in the UK?

They are picking on people who can't fight back. Because Mom isn't now a resident of Wales, she cannot vote in Welsh elections even though the party elected can suddenly decide to impose unjust taxes which have a profoundly devastating impact upon her.

Anyone remember the spate of arson attacks on English-owned holiday homes in Wales during the 70s? Meibion Glyndwr is clearly still alive and well, and working in the Welsh Assembly.
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby Collaborate » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:55 am

Sorry, but I'm with the Welsh government on this one.

The sooner houses are treated like life's other essentials, like food and water, the better. The unaffordability of homes reached crisis point many years ago, and successive Westminster governments have failed to take actions. Anything to discourage second home ownership is, in my view, a good thing. We have a housing shortage. Second homes must be discouraged somehow.
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby mugwump » Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:20 am

Sorry but I tend to agree with this as well.

One of the side effects of a large number of second or holiday homes in an area is to also push prices up, pricing out the locals as seen in some parts of Cornwall.

If you want to keep the second house then you have to pay the extra.
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby span » Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:02 am

You all have the option of moving back into the Welsh house with your mother. Then it's a first home not a second home. The second home becomes the one in England.

edited
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby Brainsey » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:02 pm

JohnP1950 wrote: How can that sort of injustice be perpetrated in the UK?

There's also the injustice of someone owning more than one home, living in only one of them and leaving the other(s) empty.

There's lots of options:
1. Do what span suggests
2. Sell up with the best will possible. Perhaps try to make sure it goes to someone local rather than another absent owner.
3. Rent it out to a local at an affordable rate
4. Rent it out as a holiday let

Something else to consider: will your mother's ill health force her into a care home in the future? If so, she may be forced to use (some of) her assests to pay towards her care - or perhaps not for an asset in Wales?
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby Clifford Pope » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:06 pm

It's not because she is English it's because she already has a home. A Welsh person with a second home would be treatly exactly the same, whether her first home was in England, Wales, or anywhere else.

I agree though that there is a more fundamental unfairness, or at least inconsistency. If council tax is to pay for local services, in what way does someone with two homes consume twice as much?
If council tax is just a tax, why do local authorities keep emphasising value for money and allocation to different services?
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby JohnP1950 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:37 pm

No, she only has one home - the one in Wales - it's just that she can't live there full time because of ill health. If she was well, she'd be living there full time and paying half the council tax, but because she has health problems she is now being asked to pay double.

It's a bit disingenuous to say it's not because she's English. The vast majority of people caught by this tax ARE English and I think that is one of the motivations for bringing in this tax - it appeals to the nationalists and those who see things at a very superficial level and are thus inclined to misplaced envy.

Does anyone think the UK government should bring in additional taxes on shops owned by, or used principally by, Polish immigrants? No, that would be racist, wouldn't it.

As I said, she's an easy target because she's elderly, ill and can't even vote in the elections that affect her.

If she rents it out, she will have to pay business rates; and that would really defeat the object of keeping the place, as she would no longer be able to go and stay at her home.

There have always been housing problems of one sort or another; and my parents had great difficulty affording their first house. But they didn't complain or expect someone to give up there home for them; they just worked hard moving around the country in the process and sometimes staying with relatives until they could find somewhere. It's a different world nowadays, people seem to have a greater sense of automatic entitlement.

Yes, there are housing problems today, but they need to be tackled in a way that is fair and moral. A lot of people can't afford new cars or 4k TVs so should people with more than one of those be taxed? A bit silly you'll say, but the point I'm making is: where do you draw the line? It's a question of basic morality.

The housing issues are not my mother's doing, they are down to deficiencies in the UK and Welsh governments, yet my Mom is now being penalised for their serial mismanagement and her ill health.

If I could move to Wales full time, I would. But my wife and I both work in Coventry, so not feasible.

Brainsey - there is no way Mom is going into a care home. That's why she is living with us. I have no time for people who allow their parents to suffer that indignity.
Last edited by JohnP1950 on Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:50 pm

Hi John,

it is now classed as a "second home" because she doesn't live there full time

can you post a link to a reliable source on this point please.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby JohnP1950 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:02 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi John,

it is now classed as a "second home" because she doesn't live there full time

can you post a link to a reliable source on this point please.

Kind regards, Mac


I don't know of anywhere online (although there probably is something somewhere). It is Section 139 of the Housing (Wales) Act, 2014, and the tax is due to come into force next year. I can probably post a copy of the letter the council sent her, if I can work out how to do it.
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:44 pm

Hi all,

this is what you're discussing:

(11) For the purposes of this section, a dwelling is a “long-term empty dwelling” on any day if for a continuous period of at least 1 year ending with that day—
(a) it has been unoccupied, and
(b) it has been substantially unfurnished.


John's mum owns a "long-term empty dwelling".

options appear to be occupy, furnish, sell or accept.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby JohnP1950 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:49 pm

No, I don't think so Mac. Just the opposite. The long term empty dwellings are not subject to the tax. Mom's place is furnished and she stays there when we can get time off work to accompany her there. Clearly one solution is to turn it into a long term empty dwelling by removing the furniture etc., but then she'll no longer be able to stay there. She is stubborn and says she would rather demolish it than be forced to sell by an unjust and racist tax. I understand her point of view.
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby mugwump » Thu Feb 18, 2016 6:08 pm

I had a little sympathy until you used the word 'racist'
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:19 pm

Hi John,

one of us is confused, and I think it's you...

[i]Higher amount for long-term empty dwellings: Wales

(1) For any financial year, a billing authority in Wales may by determination provide in relation to its area that if on any day a dwelling is a long-term empty dwelling—

(a) the discount under section 11(2)(a) does not apply, and
(b) the amount of council tax payable in respect of that dwelling and that day is increased by such percentage of not more than 100 as it may specify in the determination.

which means if you own a "long-term empty dwelling" in Wales the billing authority has the power to disapply any council tax discount and then increase the amount payable by up to 100%.

if the house has remained fully furnished I'd challenge the LA.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby JohnP1950 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:15 pm

mugwump wrote:I had a little sympathy until you used the word 'racist'

So my opinion of the facts changes your opinion of the facts. Not quite sure how that works in your mind, mugwump. The facts are as they are regardless of my opinion of them.
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Re: Welsh govt. doubles council tax for English owners

Postby JohnP1950 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:27 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi John,

one of us is confused, and I think it's you...

[i]Higher amount for long-term empty dwellings: Wales

(1) For any financial year, a billing authority in Wales may by determination provide in relation to its area that if on any day a dwelling is a long-term empty dwelling—

(a) the discount under section 11(2)(a) does not apply, and
(b) the amount of council tax payable in respect of that dwelling and that day is increased by such percentage of not more than 100 as it may specify in the determination.

which means if you own a "long-term empty dwelling" in Wales the billing authority has the power to disapply any council tax discount and then increase the amount payable by up to 100%.

if the house has remained fully furnished I'd challenge the LA.

Kind regards, Mac

With all due respect Mac, I think you might be reading the wrong part of the Act. The LA have had the power to apply a discount for many years (which is what I think your quote relates to), but they chose not to. My mother always paid the full amount of council tax. This new tax is called a Council Tax Premium which may be up to 100% extra on top of the normal council tax. It is to be payable, from April next year, by owners of so-called second homes, which are defined as residential properties that are unocupied full time AND which remain "substantially furnished". There are also some exclusions pertaining to rental properties. The definition pays no regard to the number of homes actually owned. In my mother's case, she owns only one home, but is unable to live in it full time. Therefore, it is classed as being not in full time occupation; and because she still visits there at times, it has to remain furnished. That means the property is classed as "second home" Under the Act (even though it's her only home) and therefore it is subject to the new tax.
Last edited by JohnP1950 on Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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