The article reports a desperate attempt to stop the closing of the loophole that allows holiday home owners to claim their property is a business and thereby avoid paying the council tax surcharge on holiday homes.
I have chosen to write this because rarely have I read such self-serving and unadulterated bilge / bollocks / bullshit. (Take your pick.)
It begins with the foundation lie that holiday homes in Wales are owned by locals; that is, Welsh people. Once the foundation is laid a whole house of lies can be built upon it.
It can be argued that to close the loophole, or to increase the council tax surcharge, will damage Welsh communities economically, will result in locals having to sell out to “wealthier outsiders” and – to cap it all – these moves will harm the Welsh language.
I propose to go through the article and address the points made in the order they were made. But let me begin by introducing the organisations being quoted in the article.
First, the Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA), formed in 1998 (I quote from the WTA website) ” . . . when the National Assembly for Wales was established and the responsibility for tourism was devolved from Westminster to Cardiff”.
The WTA website is in English only.
Explanation: Viewing devolution as a Welsh Nationalist plot the (largely English-run) tourism industry in Wales decided to draw the waggons into laager.
UK Hospitality Cymru (UKHC) is another of those English organisations that pretends to have a Welsh presence by adding “Cymru” to the name. The contact details are all for the London office.
Finally, we have the Professional Association of Self Caterers UK (PASC UK), which doesn’t even bother with the pretence of adding “Cymru” or “Wales”. It got involved in Wales when the Wales Association of Self-Catering Operators (WASCO) folded in 2020.
PASC UK would no doubt be treating Wales as a region of England were it not for the proposed legislation reminding its Board – none of whom seem to have any connection with Wales – that things are different here.
Here’s the article I’m referring to. I suggest you read it and as you read give some thought to what is really being said. (It’s available here in pdf format.)
Health warning! Those with a low boiling point should not proceed.
Let’s start the dissection of the article in paragraph 3.
It seems that the three organisations quoted believe that the proposed legislation will damage the tourism industry. By which I assume they mean that Wales will see fewer tourists, and the impact of tourism on Wales will be reduced.
Would that be a bad thing?
Tourism is Welsh communities taken over and anglicised. (Think Abersoch, Aberdyfi, and other places.) It’s increased traffic, environmental damage, shit on Yr Wyddfa. Do we really want to keep these things at their current level?
Of course not. These are things we should be seeking to reduce or banish entirely.
Turning to the economic argument . . . how many tourism businesses are owned by Welsh people? How many Welsh people have jobs in tourism that pay enough to enable them to buy a home in a tourism ‘hot-spot’, like Abersoch? (Or anywhere else?) How many people does the tourism industry employ in November, or February?
GREEN TOURISM, HONEST!
Moving on to paragraphs 9 and 10.
Paragraph 9 contains a plea to increase the letting threshold from 70 to just 105 days (rather than the proposed 182) in return for which the three groups will work towards making tourism “greener”.
Will tourists come by train and then use the extensive Welsh network to travel around the country? Or perhaps they’ll walk? Hire a mule?
Let’s be honest; these groups realise that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has succumbed to climate hysteria and they’re just playing on that.
Though it does raise an interesting point. Because if the ‘Welsh Government’ wants higher self-catering occupancy rates then that will inevitably mean more tourists, and more car journeys, and more pollution.
How does that square with the ‘Welsh Government’s belief that Wales can single-handedly save the planet?
Paragraph 10 ends with the claim that the proposed legislation will have “a disproportionate and damaging economic impact on . . . communities”.
Presumably the communities being destroyed by holiday homes!
This claim seems to be based on the argument that people staying in rented accommodation put money into the local economy. Which is no doubt true.
Taken to its logical conclusion, the greatest benefit, with the most money going into the local economy, will be achieved if holiday homes become permanent homes for Welsh families.
FEWER HOLIDAY HOMES WOULD BE BAD FOR LOCALS
Paragraphs 11 and 12 (below) plumb new depths of desperation. And dishonesty.
The three organisations claim legislation that might force cheats into either paying what they’re supposed to pay, or else sell up, will be of no benefit to local people. “It will reduce local owners’ ability to earn an income”.
To begin with, few holiday homes are owned by local Welsh people. But here the ‘Welsh Government’ should simply make exemptions for those that are.
Will this be discriminatory? Of course it will, but it would also mean the ‘Welsh Government’ would be prioritising the best interests of the indigenous population.
Would it be anti-English? Of course not. People from Namibia, Bolivia and Kazakhstan with holiday homes in Wales would be equally affected.
There would, it’s claimed, be “a decline in secondary jobs in hospitality, retail, house maintenance and cleaning”. An old one, this. A variation on the theme of holiday homes putting money into the local economy.
It’s such obvious nonsense that those spouting it must think we’re idiots!
As for “house maintenance”, I live in a village with far too many holiday homes, and I’m amazed by the tradesmen’s vans I regularly see from exotic locations over the border. The areas where the holiday home owners live.
If I had the power I would introduce a fine for any home owner not employing local tradesmen. And a public flogging for a repeat offence.
Paragraph 12 reads, “(The proposed legislation) will not safeguard the Welsh language as these businesses will be lost to wealthier outsiders prepared to meet the higher costs of having a second home or self-catering business in Wales.”
Is it being suggested that holiday homes now safeguard the Welsh language? If so, then they really do think we’re stupid!
Though I agree with them that if the current loophole is closed, and the 300% council tax surcharge levied, then many properties will come on the market. But will they really be bought by “wealthier outsiders”?
And if they were, then what would it mean?
Nothing, really, except that our councils could be getting a good income from the 300% surcharge and those holiday homes that were falsely claiming to be businesses will have to be run as real self-catering businesses – providing all the benefits the three organisations claim such enterprises provide.
Everybody wins . . . except those currently cheating the system
In my opinion, closing the loophole and raising the surcharge to 300% would reduce the demand for and the attractiveness of holiday homes and result in property prices in rural areas of Wales falling. Which would mean more properties coming within the financial reach of local people.
And if the 300% holiday home council tax surcharge doesn’t bring enough properties within the reach of locals, then we should raise it to 500%.
“WITHOUT HOLIDAY HOMES YOU’D ALL STARVE!”
Finally, to paragraph 15, which warns that the economy of rural Wales will collapse if holiday home owners currently gaming the system are made to pay their full whack.
To begin with, let’s consider the term, “self-catering”. It means catering for oneself. And here’s an example of what it means.
I see people arriving in my village for a week or two in a holiday home and it often takes a good half an hour to unload the car – because they’ve brought just about everything bar the kitchen sink. (Same applies to those staying in caravans.)
Yes, they go to local restaurants, pubs, and other places. But what they spend in the local economy is – for obvious reasons – exaggerated.
It takes us back to the point I made earlier. No matter how much holiday homes may contribute to the local economy that contribution would be dwarfed by locals living in those properties for 12 months of the year.
A child could understand that. Why do the defenders of holiday homes pretend not to?
The report produced by the Wales Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Cymru, and Professional Association of Self Caterers UK purports to promote the self-catering sector but reads like a defence of those exploiting the existing loophole by pretending their private holiday homes are businesses.
Then, by proposing that the minimum occupancy time for a property to qualify as a genuine rental should increase from the current 70 days a year to just 1o5 days, the three organisations tend to undermine their own case.
Proposing such a low level of occupancy does nothing for the image of a thrusting, non-seasonal tourism sector without which we Welsh would be reduced to cannibalism.
Especially as on the PASC UK website we read of Council member Robert Kennedy and his wife that, “In just 3 years their non-agency on-line marketing strategy grew the business to 90% occupancy”. That’s 328 days a year.
But at the end of the day, we are discussing tourism. And as I have said repeatedly, the damage inflicted on Wales by tourism far outweighs any benefits seen by Welsh people.
Anything that can ameliorate or reduce the impact of tourism in general and holiday homes in particular should be supported. So back the closing of the loophole. Insist that your council imposes the 300% surcharge. And demand a tourism tax.
Then ensure that the money collected does not make its way to Corruption Bay, or to third sector bodies, or to housing associations. That money must be used in the areas damaged by tourism for the benefit of local people, especially younger people looking to buy a home in which they can raise a family.
What these three, essentially English, organisations, are saying is: “You couldn’t manage without us”. The traditional response to uppity natives.
Reminding us that tourism in Wales is a largely colonialist activity. One country being used for the benefit and enjoyment of another – and then told to be grateful for being exploited.
Well they know where they can stick that!
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