WTA Members Consultation Notes: Draft council tax (exceptions to higher amounts) (Wales) (amendment) Regulations 2023 – Closes 22/12/2022
Draft council tax (exceptions to higher amounts) (Wales) (amendment) Regulations 2023 – Closes 22/12/2022
A copy of the consultation documents and the response forms can be found at:
Draft council tax (exceptions to higher amounts) (Wales) (amendment) Regulations 2023 | GOV.WALES
The following responses written in blue are for guidance purposes to assist you with regard to your response to the above questionnaires.
You can send your response to Consultation 1 in by the following means:
You can respond online, click here: https://www.gov.wales/node/50820/respond-online
Or you can download the response form , fill it in and send to:
You are perfectly entitled, of course, to deviate or disagree with our guidance answers below. Or indeed you may wish to respond in a way that has partial parity or completely different answers.
However, what we do request is that you respond. It is vitally important that we get our voices heard and attempt to insist the Welsh Government avoids any unintended consequences…if at all possible.
Please also try to vary the responses from those below if you can, avoiding cut and paste responses means that more responses will be read and measured by the Welsh Government. Thanks.
Question 1 - Do the draft Regulations provide clarity on the circumstances in which a property with a planning condition can be excepted from the council tax premium? If not, how can it be improved?
If a property is restricted by planning permission or has a Certificate of Lawfulness to carry out Short-Term Letting it must be exempted.
PASC UK is looking for the widest possible exception, that will recognise that any property with a planning restriction that means it can only be used as a furnished holiday let/self-catering then it should be exempted from the council tax premium. It is not part of ‘residential stock, and the exemption from the Council Tax must therefore be applied.
Therefore, the Clause ‘(a) preventing occupancy for a continuous period of at least 28 days in any one-year period’ should not include a day threshold.
Adding an arbitrary number of days is unworkable as Wales local planning authorities do not implement a consistent threshold. It has also proved to be un-enforceable.
Note for Members …. Long Term Use: There are also businesses, yours maybe one of them, that have been operating as a furnished holiday let/s beyond ten years or indeed more. The activity will now be 'legitimised' in the eyes of the law as being acceptable and the absence of planning permission regarding a change of use, and will have ceased to be actionable after ten years. Welsh Gov will need to consider how to ensure how these long-term businesses will be included as an exemption where the unit has been used exclusively as a FHL for over 10 years.
This is called a Certificate of Lawfulness
You can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate for an existing use or development providing you can demonstrate that: the land has been in continuous use (other than as a dwelling) for more than 10 years. a condition or limitation on planning permission has not been complied with for more than 10 years.
These properties would of course need to be able to prove this by demonstrating sufficient long-term use, e.g., Customer records/HMRC returns/accountants' letters.
Question 2 - Are there any unintended consequences for the proposal to extend Class 6 of the council tax premium exception? Can you provide any examples?
Yes, if a premium is applied to an FHL it implies that it could be better used as a full-time residence as it has not reached the minimum threshold of 182 days. If a property then cannot be sold as a primary dwelling, the dwelling is both blighted for sale, as who would want to purchase a building which has both a planning restriction and an exceptionally high council tax charge and it cannot assist with the ‘so called housing crises’ if it cannot be utilised as a full-time dwelling?
Quote Guidance document: The discretion given to local authorities to charge a premium is intended to be a tool to help:
Question 3 - Do you have any other comments about the draft Regulations?
Yes, further exemptions from premium council tax should be made:
Properties within the curtilage of an owner’s main residence – we also request that an exemption includes those whose FHL lies within the curtilage of an owner’s primary residence.
Farm Diversifications - Farm diversification businesses should be exempt. Additionally, we anticipate that units, which are not housing stock are withdrawn from the market that have been created from vacant agricultural or industrial buildings, should be exempt.
Charities and Charitable donations - Self-catering Charities should be exempt. These businesses carry out vital work offering specialist holidays that provides breaks for those with special needs and those from low incomes households. There are also a number of businesses offering free weeks accommodation to charities for use to provide charitable accommodation or to fundraise.
Larger resorts and complexes - Sites that have multiple units owned by the same person, where facilities are provided for and shared by those staying on site. For example, if they have pools and games rooms, gyms, a play area, coffee shops. Application of up to 300% CT for multiple units could simply bankrupt a business with multiple units that cannot make 182 days for each unit.
VAT registered FHL Businesses - We have asked that you consider businesses that are already past the VAT threshold to be exempt from additional Council Tax. Across self-catering in Wales less than 5% are registered for VAT.
We also continue to appeal on behalf of the industry that you reconsider what appears to be your strict process approach and amend the statement to lower the proposed threshold from 182 days let to 105 days let.
Question 4 - The Welsh Government would like your views on the effect the draft Regulations would have on the Welsh language, specifically on:
Many FHLs are run by local families and provide a reason for adult children to remain in the area. If these properties are lost to the local economy (as opposed to second homes) then their opportunity to use and live through the medium of Welsh is threatened.
If a property then cannot be sold as a primary dwelling, the dwelling is both blighted for sale, (as who would want to purchase a building which has both a planning restriction and an exceptionally high council tax charge) and it also cannot assist with the ‘so called housing crises’ if it cannot be utilised as a full time dwelling due to planning restraint.
Therefore, we suggest that these buildings should automatically be awarded reversion from Class C5 to C3 if an owner requests this new change of use. Otherwise, the premium makes no functional sense as regards assisting in the three-pronged approach.
Question 5 - Please also explain how you believe the draft Regulations could be formulated or changed so as to have:
Taxation proposals, in and of themselves, are difficult to identify as drivers of positive effects on the Welsh language. Consideration needs to be given to the exemptions above as most operators live next to or close to their units, making them locals, many of whom are Welsh language speakers, who may lose their economic viability and be forced to sell and leave the area.
Question 6 We have asked a number of specific questions. If you have any related points which we have not specifically addressed, please use this space to record them.
We need an appeal process against application of the premium rate for exceptional circumstances.
Consultation 2: Council tax premiums for long-term empty and second homes: guidance for local authorities (Closes 22/12/22)
You can send your response to Consultation 2 in by the following means:
You can respond online, click here: https://www.gov.wales/council-tax-premiums-long-term-empty-and-second-homes-guidance-local-authorities-html#section-109064
Or you can download the response form , fill it in and send to:
There are only three questions the second two are in relation to the impact on the Welsh language so please refer to the responses above. For question 1:
Do you have any comments on the proposed draft guidance?
In relation to Class 6
Dwellings where by virtue of a planning condition, year-round or permanent occupation is prohibited or has been specified for use as short-term holiday accommodation only or prevents occupancy as a person’s sole or main residence
Property Blight: If a property then cannot be sold as a primary dwelling, the dwelling is both blighted for sale, as who would want to purchase a building which has both a planning restriction and an exceptionally high council tax charge and it cannot assist with the ‘so called housing crises’ if it cannot be utilised as a full-time dwelling.
Quote from Guidance document: The discretion given to local authorities to charge a premium is intended to be a tool to help:
Breadth of power: These discretionary powers are being established to allow local authorities to tailor their use to address local priorities and reflect the different patterns of housing availability and need across Wales, local authorities should carry out a full economic impact assessment before deciding whether to charge a premium.
Economic Impact Assessment: ‘A local authority should make a full assessment of possible impacts, including on the local population, its communities, and the local economy’.
In particular the numbers and percentages of homes that are required should be assessed against the counties second homes and then self-catering properties in order to provide a full economic assessment as to whether charging a premium is fair and transparent and whether it impacts on the availability of affordable homes rated in the bands A and B (affordable homes). i.e., does the local need justify the charging of a premium. It should also take into account the potential impact on the wider local economy and the tourism industry.
N.B We also note the following statement about 12-month notification. Quote from Guidance paper: ‘For second homes, the first determination to charge a premium must be made at least 12 months before the beginning of the financial year to which the proposed premium relates. As empty dwellings must be empty for at least 12 months before a premium can apply, a first determination to apply a premium to long-term empty dwellings should also be made at least 12 months before the beginning of the financial year to which the premium relates. We do wonder why this statement was made here and yet the Welsh Government is not adhering to this in relation to the implementation of the 182 Day rule?