Posted: Sun 3rd Jul 2022

Self-catering bodies to meet Welsh Minister over ‘punitive’ tax changes

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jul 3rd, 2022

Three trade associations representing professional self-catering businesses in Wales are to meet a Welsh Government Minister to try to thrash out a solution to what they describe as “punitive” tax changes due to be introduced next April.

Wales Tourism Alliance, The Professional Association of Self Caterers UK and UK Hospitality Cymru have warned that the tax changes could force as many as 30% of self-catering businesses to close or sell up.

They hope to meet Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, early next month.

Their mission is to “protect real Welsh self-catering businesses” as the Welsh Government proposes stricter rules on accommodation qualifying for business rates rather than council tax.

Currently, self-catering properties in Wales must be available to let for a minimum of 140 days in any 12-month period, and actually let for at least 70 days to qualify for business rates rather than council tax.

Under the new proposals, properties must be available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days to qualify for business rates – an increase of 160%.

From April 2023, a self-catering business not meeting the new threshold would incur council tax as a second home, instead of business rates. Welsh county councils will have the power to increase council tax on all these businesses by up to 300%.

The Welsh Government has opted to press on with the tax plans despite receiving evidence of damaging impacts from the three trade associations who surveyed more than 1,500 self-catering businesses across Wales.

In a joint letter to the Welsh Government, the associations say they are “hugely disappointed” that their evidence had been ignored.

“This all-Wales, one size fits all approach takes no account of the different kinds of businesses that operate in a seasonal Welsh tourism year,” they say. “Nor does it respond to the fact that the problem this proposes to solve does not affect the whole of Wales, something the Welsh Government has, itself, recognised.

“Our data shows that more than 30% of professional, local self-catering businesses will face having to sell or close because of this legislation. These are not second home owners.

“We are now asking the Welsh Government to formally sit down with us to review and agree what the essential and justifiable exemptions and mitigations might be, in order to ensure that real businesses are not caught in the consequences of this new threshold.”

The associations are asking for a transition period of two or three years to introduce the changes, up to 18 exemptions and dispensations for businesses carrying out repairs and refurbishment, property improvements or being forced to close due to ill-health or caring responsibilities.

They also want self-catering businesses to have an appeal process against the 182-day threshold in exceptional circumstances.

They raise important questions about how councils plan to tax properties that it currently doesn’t know about, such as those relying solely on online listings with global companies.

Other queries surround how letting days will be calculated, what is the commercial rate for letting a property, Council Tax rating on businesses with multiple units and taxing pop-up businesses.

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