THE WELSH GOVERNMENT will put forward the vacant land tax idea to test the Wales Act 2014 powers, Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mark Drakeford has announced.
The Cabinet Secretary will set out the next steps for proposing a new Welsh tax as part of the tax policy work plan for 2018.
Since announcing a shortlist of 4 new tax ideas alongside the draft Budget in October, the Welsh Government has been examining the case for each of these.
The 4 tax ideas were: a social care levy, a vacant land tax, a disposable plastics tax and a tourism tax.
Although the vacant land tax idea will be used to test the Wales Act powers, work will also continue on each of the other 3 tax ideas.
The decision to take forward the vacant land tax idea follows engagement with stakeholder organisations, the public and across government.
A vacant land tax has been chosen both because it could help to incentivise more timely development, and because it could help prevent dereliction and aid regeneration.
Professor Drakeford said: “Housing is a priority for the Welsh Government. A tax on vacant land could prevent the practice of land banking and land not being developed within the expected timescales.
“The Republic of Ireland vacant sites levy provides a useful starting point for how a vacant land tax could work in Wales.
“The existing model in the Republic of Ireland and the relatively narrow focus of the tax make this the most suitable of the 4 shortlisted ideas to test the Wales Act.”
The Irish measure, announced in their government’s 2018 Budget, will mean that any owner of a vacant site on the register who does not develop their land in 2018 will pay the 3% levy in 2019 and then become liable to the increased rate of 7% from 1 January 2019.
If land owners continue to hoard land in 2019, they will pay 7% in 2020.
When the Welsh Government announced it was considering such a measure in October 2017, before the UK Government said it was considering a similar plan, the House Builders’ Federation raised the spectre of developers decamping en masse to England with their large projects. That threat, such as it was, has receded but the Federation of Master Builders is still concerned.
Speaking to BBC Wales, Ifan Glyn of FMB Cymru said: “If there’s a tax that’s introduced that can focus solely on land banking for financial reasons to maximise profits, we would absolutely agree with that.
“Our issue is we don’t see how this tax can differentiate between land that’s been banked for financial reasons and land that isn’t being developed or stalling for reasons outside the developer’s control.”
A further wrinkle in the system was identified by Dr John McCartney, Director of Research at Savills Ireland.
Speaking about what were then only proposals by the Irish Government to impose the vacant site levy, he said that increasing the vacant site levy to 7% could amplify “boom-and-bust cycles” in the construction sector.
Dr McCartney said that land is a raw material for developers and it is natural for them to carry a stock of development land.
“No developer will now carry a land-bank in a slow market. This means when a recovery follows developers will spend the early years on site assembly rather than the house building they could and should be doing,” he explained.
Responding to the announcement, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Finance spokesperson, Nick Ramsay AM said: “From the outset, Welsh Conservatives have opposed the ludicrous proposal for a tourism tax in Wales, one which would cause serious harm to businesses across the country.
“While we are pleased the Welsh Government has listened to us and decided against taking this idea forward, once the mechanism has been tested, we would not expect the Labour Government to return to the table with this proposal, one which has been widely criticised by the industry.
“Our vigorous campaign will continue until Labour’s Finance Secretary consigns this ludicrous proposal to where it belongs: the bin.”
Commenting on the decision to bring forward a potential vacant land tax, Mr Ramsay added: “On the surface, we welcome the fact that, as in England, the Welsh Government is exploring the viability of a vacant land tax but we await the full details of this proposal from the Finance Secretary.
“However, an important distinction must be made between land held for legitimate technical reasons such as detailed planning or a lack of skills and materials, and land which is held for purely commercial speculation.
“Speculation distorts the main purpose of releasing land for much needed development and it will be vitally important to fully consult with the sector to ensure the right balance is struck.”
Exam Success for Ashmole & Co Accountants
ASHMOLE & Co are delighted to announce that Gwenllian Phillips, in the Cardigan office, has completed her studies and passed all her exams to become a qualified member of the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).
Gwenllian, who is from Cardigan, joined the Ashmole & Co team as a Trainee Accountant in August 2020, after graduating from Aberystwyth University with a First in Accounting and Finance.
Karl Wilcox, Partner in Ashmole & Co’s Cardigan office said, “We are all so proud of Gwenllian and her fantastic achievements. She has become an integral part of our team in the Cardigan office.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch her going from strength to strength. It is important as a profession that we help to train the next generation of accountants. Qualified staff members are the lifeblood for the future success of our firm.”
Gwenllian’s day to day responsibilities include completing VAT returns, assisting in audit work and preparing end of year accounts for local sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.
Gwenllian said, “I am grateful to Ashmole and Co for being so supportive since I started and helping me gain my qualifications. I am enjoying working with local businesses and knowing that I am helping them with their needs. There has been a lot to learn and remember with every set of accounts being different but that means that every day is different which makes the role really interesting.”
Gwenllian lives in Cardigan and in her spare time enjoys going to yoga classes, reading and walking in the countryside around Ceredigion.
If you would like to contact Ashmole & Co’s Cardigan office in Manchester House on Grosvenor Hill, please telephone: 01239 612162 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashmole & Co are one of the largest chartered certified accountants in Wales. The rapidly expanding and modern firm often has job opportunities for enthusiastic individuals both qualified and non-qualified within the organisation.
If you feel you have the qualities to be part of the team at Ashmole & Co, please email, with your CV attached, to AshmoleHR@ashmole.co.uk.
Alternatively, apply for a specific vacancy listed on the website: www.ashmole.co.uk
Lead distiller named Foundation Apprentice of Year at company’s awards
FFION LEWIS has been promoted to lead distiller at award-winning In the Welsh Wind Distillery, based at Tanygroes, near Cardigan, after completing a Foundation Apprenticeship in Brewing.
Now the 22-year-old’s learning journey has been rewarded with the Foundation Apprentice of the Year award at the annual Apprenticeship, Employment and Skills Awards held by Cambrian Training Company, one of Wales’ leading work-based learning providers.
There was a double celebration for In the Welsh Wind which also won the Small Employer of the Year award.
Ffion joined In the Welsh Wind as an apprentice distiller after returning home to Mid Wales from New Zealand where she lived for three years and has played a key role in the development of whiskey making at the distillery
With a background in laboratory work, the job was perfect for her. Having now progressed to a leadership qualification with Chwarae Teg Women’s Career Development Programme, Ffion says the Foundation Apprenticeship improved her confidence, self-esteem and employability.
Ffion, who is now supporting other apprentices within the business, said: “It means a lot to win this award. I think apprenticeships are really important. I had previously worked in a microbiology lab in New Zealand and didn’t have any experience in distilling before doing my apprenticeship.
“I was really happy to find a job in a job at In the Welsh Wind when I returned to West Wales.”
Recognising employers and learners who have excelled in apprenticeship, skills and employment training programmes delivered by Cambrian Training Company, the awards were held at The Metropole Hotel & Spa, Llandrindod Wells.
The other Foundation Apprentice of the Year finalist was Ryan Harding, 26, Kepak, Merthyr Tydfil who lives in Blaenavon.
With offices in Welshpool, Holyhead, Colwyn Bay, Llanelli and Llanelwedd, Cambrian Training Company delivers work-based apprenticeships across Wales.
Arwyn Watkins, OBE, the company’s managing director, congratulated Hannah and all the award winners and finalists for their achievement despite the challenging disruptions caused by the pandemic over the past two years.
“These awards showcase the dedication and commitment by individuals and companies to the apprenticeship programme here in Wales,” he added. “Ffion has demonstrated what can be achieved in career progression through apprenticeships.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Supporting Ceredigion’s small businesses at the Eisteddfod
THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD OF WALES visiting Ceredigion will be an excellent opportunity to promote local businesses and boost the local economy.
In addition to the surge in visitors to the county, a number of Ceredigion businesses have taken advantage of the opportunity to sell their products at trade stands at the Eisteddfod.
Ceredigion County Council supports local/small businesses, and we are pleased that some have accepted the invitation to showcase their products in wooden huts at Pentre’ Ceredigion’s stand on the Maes.
We welcome the opportunity to show that Ceredigion is a good place to do business, and it will be an opportunity for the businesses to promote and sell their products.
Around 15 companies from Ceredigion will take advantage of the wooden huts during the week. These include Pethau Melys, Galeri Gwyn, Bay Coffee Roasters, CreatEmAber, Yoga Essentials, Canfas, Tonnau Surf, U Melt Me, Gwella, L P-D, Atebol, Coffi & Bara, In the Welsh Wind, Recover Eden, and Aberdabbadoo.
There will also be an opportunity for people to learn more about food and drink companies in the county during the daily cooking demonstrations at 11:30am in Pentre’ Ceredigion. Pop by for a treat for your tastebuds.
One local company who has taken advantage of this is the craft business L P-D. Lowri Pugh-Davies from Llangybi said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for my small business. I’m extremely grateful for the privilege and the chance to trade along with other businesses from Ceredigion, and only a stone throws away from my home. The experience will be even more special for me as this will be the first Eisteddfod where I’ll be taking a stand, and the biggest event for my small business. Thank you very much for the invaluable opportunity.”
Why not visit other areas in Ceredigion during the Eisteddfod period. You can get a glimpse of what the county has to offer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBFvGg23UqA
Councillor Clive Davies, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for the Economy and Regeneration, said: “Ceredigion businesses have so much to offer and the National Eisteddfod’s visit to the county is a truly fantastic opportunity to celebrate and promote that. It will be lovely to see visitors venturing to every part of Ceredigion to get a taste and support local businesses, as well as finding interesting companies on the Maes itself. Ceredigion County Council is proud to support small businesses too by offering slots in the wooden trading huts during the week. Remember to drop by.”
You can see Pentre’ Ceredigion’s full timetable on our website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/eisteddfod
You can also download the Eisteddfod app and find more Information on the Eisteddfod’s website, www.eisteddfod.cymru, and follow us on social media:
Remember to share your photos too by using the hashtags #Steddfod2022 and #EisteddfodCeredigion.
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