Second homes tax grants will now be spent county-wide in Pembrokeshire
Grants from a Pembrokeshire second homes tax premium scheme will no longer see the lion’s share go to those areas most affected.
Pembrokeshire county council introduced a second homes premium on council tax, initially at 50 per cent and now at 100 per cent, in 2017.
An Enhancing Pembrokeshire Fund was established to use money from that premium, to provide grants to enhance the sustainability of local communities.
Grants distribution has historically seen 75 per cent targeted at local wards proportionate to the number of second homes, with the remaining 25 per cent at multiple ward strategic projects; the final decision on grants made by Cabinet.
The Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant received £1.1m (50 per cent of the second homes levy) in 2021-’22, and £1.2m (25 per cent) in 2022-’23.
To date, £3,857,198 has been awarded to 225 projects attracting match funding of £4,681,707, investing a total of £8,538,906, with 200 of the projects local.
Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, at their July meeting, heard it was now proposed to have a county-wide approach of larger and smaller schemes; the smaller schemes of up to £15,000 would be decided by officers, the larger still coming to Cabinet.
It is expected to have an annual £700,000 budget after new staff are employed to run it, up to ’27-’28, with a small grants budget of £300,000 and £400,000 for large grants.
In a widening of the geographical scope of the grants, a report for members stated: “Second homes impact beyond the geographical boundaries of their locations.
“Key service centres, with low second home numbers, experiencing significant negative impacts from second home ownership are currently unable to use this grant to mitigate those impacts.
“It is felt that a more effective and equitable way to support this would be to introduce a small and large grant programme available county-wide.”
At the Cabinet meeting, Cabinet Member for Corporate Improvement & Communities Cllr Neil Prior moved the changes be supported, saying it was “moving to an approach where you’ve got a small or a large grant,” adding: “Some of the communities that have not been successful in bids now can; there is equity in the process.”
Members agreed that the Enhancing Pembrokeshire Fund be amalgamated into a single generic funding pot, with the indicative allowance of some £700,000 annually.
It was also agreed that grants of up to £15,000 be delegated to officers, with larger decisions of up to £100,000 made by Cabinet.
By BBC LDRS
Spotted something? Got a story? Email News@News.Wales