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No rebate on second home council tax allowed halfway through financial year

A REBATE  on second home council tax premiums could not be decided on halfway through a financial year “even if we wished to do so” said the cabinet member for finance in response to a question from the public.

Second homeowner Dave Hinns had asked Pembrokeshire County Council whether it would consider a rebate “to those unfortunate to be caught in this position” after the covid-19 pandemic meant he could not make a home bought in Pembroke in 2018 for retirement his “primary” home in early 2020.

Having reduced my hours of employment to make the move and with the Covid restrictions implemented, we found ourselves trapped in England,” Mr Hinns’ question to full council on Thursday, May 13 states.

He asked if it was “fair” to charge the second home premium while travel was restricted to prevent the spread of covid-19.

Cllr Bob Kilmister said that the purpose of the premium is “to help increase the supply of affordable homes particularly in our coastal and rural areas and second homes can reduce the number of homes available for local people.”

This purpose had not changed due to the pandemic, he added.

Income from the premium – which is ring-fenced – had allowed the plan for affordable homes in Solva to progress and around £600,000 had been given to local community projects benefiting areas impacted by second homeownership through the Enhancing Pembrokeshire scheme.

The Local Government Act allows for variations to council tax charges to be made but only before the beginning of a financial year, said Cllr Kilmister.

“The council could not have altered it due to the pandemic even if we wished to do so. However, we would not wish to consider a rebate as the purpose the premium referred to previously remains.”

Proposals to increase the premium will be subject to public consultation in the summer, after demands from some councillors that changes be made due to concerns about housing availability and affordability, impact on schools and the Welsh language, with a decision on the level likely in October, he added.

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