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Politicians to set limits on second homes, with higher council taxes

It appears almost certain that there will be limits imposed on the number and location of second homes in Wales, following a deal struck by the majority Labour Party.

Labour has 30 seats in the Welsh Parliament - one short of an overall majority - so has struck a political deal with nationalist party Plaid Cymru. This will not be a formal coalition nor will it involve ministerial positions for Plaid politicians.

However, there will be political agreement on certain key issues, with second homes at the top of the agenda. 

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A blog by Welsh Labour activist Darren Williams, an executive member of the party, suggests the deal will also cover possible rent controls. 

In addition, there will be policy deals on the extension of free school meals to all primary school pupils; childcare for all two-year-olds; creation of a National Care Service; limits on second-home ownership; a replacement for council tax; the creation of a publicly owned construction company and an energy company; changes to the Welsh Parliament’s size and electoral system, including a statutory guarantee of gender balance; and measures to promote the Welsh language.”

Former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell says the deal secures “a radical programme for Wales that contains many of the policies set out in Labour’s 2019 election manifesto.”

Precise details of the second homes policy have been kept under wraps, but Plaid has been fiercely critical of existing rules for some years.

Welsh Parliament member Mabon ap Gwynfor - who represents Plaid Cymru for the Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency - has told the news website Nation.Cymru that: “Plaid Cymru demands direct interventions to mitigate the housing crisis, including trebling the Land Transaction tax, changing planning laws to allow councils to impose a cap on the number of second homes, and closing the loophole that allows second homeowners to register their property as a ‘business’ to avoid paying the council tax premium.

“Nearly half of the housing stock in my constituency of Dwyfor Meirionnydd were sold as second homes last year. Consultations, trials and pilot schemes are not going to be enough and will be too late. What our communities need is action – and fast.”

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