Wales’ housing minister told the Senedd increased council tax premiums have raised £17m amid concerns communities have been “disembowelled” by high numbers of second homes.

Julie James said local authorities have been able to introduce higher council tax premiums, beyond the previous 100 per cent limit, on second homes and empty properties since April 2023.

She told the chamber 18 of Wales’ 22 councils will be applying premiums on either or both types of property from April, with a further two councils to follow by 2025.

Ms James said more than £17m additional revenue was raised by councils in 2022-23 to be invested in public services, including addressing homelessness and social housing.

She pointed to other affordable housing measures jointly agreed between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, including plans to register all visitor accommodation.

Ms James highlighted the Dwyfor pilot and Gwynedd Council’s consultation on increased planning powers to tackle the impact of second homes and short-term holiday lets.

Mabon ap Gwynfor raised concerns about second homes pushing up property prices and undoing the social fabric of communities by forcing families to move.

“Many communities have been disembowelled by the numbers of second homes,” he said.

Plaid Cymru’s shadow housing minister welcomed statistics showing the number of second homes is expected to fall nine per cent from 24,000 in the 12 months from April.

He said Gwynedd Council raised £9m through council tax premiums in 2023-24, with £6m allocated to an action plan to provide homes for young people and £3m for homelessness.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS called for a significant expansion in the availability of social housing, according to local need across Wales.

He described the Welsh Government’s aim of building 20,000 social homes by 2026 as far from adequate, warning that ministers will not hit the target at current progress.

Janet Finch-Saunders stressed that targeting second-home owners is not a panacea.

She said: “Affordable homes, for many, are a major problem.

“However, the targeting of short-term holiday lets and second home owners is not the panacea because, like it or not, they do contribute towards our local economy.”