A PUBLIC consultation that could see the tax on second home and empty property council tax in Ceredigion rise to as high as 300 per cent is expected to be approved by Cabinet members next week.

Ceredigion currently has a 25 per cent premium on both second homes and empty properties, with other authorities in Wales charging far more.

New Welsh Government local tax rules now allow local authorities being to collect council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties at up to 300 per cent.

Ceredigion County Council has already made plans for a Community Housing Scheme - signed off in June - to help local residents onto the property ladder, and earmarked income from the tax premiums to pay for it.

Any increase in premiums would boost the pot for the housing scheme, which would see the council contribute loans to help people buy homes in the county and bring empty properties back into use, is currently budgeted at £1.8m.

A report set to be put before Cabinet members on 5 September, says there were 33,856 chargeable properties in Ceredigion, 1,697 of them second homes and 592 empty properties, the two classes representing 6.8 per cent of all properties.

Areas with the highest proportion of second homes in the county were mostly coastal, the highest being New Quay, where more than one in four properties are second homes, followed by Llangrannog 17.1, Borth 14.1, Pontarfynach 11, Penbryn 9.6, Aberaeron 9.1, and Aberporth 8.4.

Long-term empty properties were greatest in more urban areas: Aberporth 2.2 per cent, Aberystwyth 1.8, Cardigan 1.5, and Llandysul 1.5.

The report said that any change to the level of the council tax premium must be made by full council, and would need to be approved before 31 December in order to take effect in the next financial year.

The report concludes: “It is important that consideration is given to engagement and consultation with key stakeholders.

“This will include both the wider electorate (residents and businesses) and those currently affected by the existing 25 per cent premium.

“It is therefore proposed that a formal public consultation is launched, which will last for at least a six-week period during September and October.

“Council tax premiums can be an emotive topic as well as having technical aspects to it.

“It is therefore proposed to set up a politically-balanced cross-party working group of members to provide a forum to receive further research papers, modelling, to receive a report on consultation responses in due course and to support detailed discussions on any potential changes prior to further consideration by Cabinet and then, ultimately, full council if there is a proposal to change the existing level of council tax premium.”

Members are recommended to start a formal public consultation, with the conditions and procedures as outlined in the report.