Second Home Council Tax Levy
24 December 2001

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The Highland Council is to urge the Scottish Executive to introduce legislation which will result in second home owners, who presently qualify for a 50% Council Tax rebate, paying an additional 25% or 50%.

Councillors want the Scottish Executive to adopt their policy and, in doing so, allow each of the 32 councils in Scotland the right to retain the additional income for local spending on essential council services.

There are 6,160 properties in Highland (6.2%) receiving 50% discount, which results in a lost revenue of 150 million.

Convener David Green said that progress was being made in England to remove the 50% discount on second homes, as a result of the publication of the Rural White Paper.

He believed the Scottish Executive should swiftly follow this example and he received the support of councillors to commence a campaign seeking new legislation.

Councillor Green said: "We have expressed clear and consistent views on this issue and I believe the time is right, with the movement in England, for the Executive to drive through new legislation. We want the additional income to be ploughed back into local essential services, such as education and social work."

Councillor Michael Foxley, Chairman of the Land and Environment Select Committee, who represents Ardnamurchan, said that in many rural communities in the Highlands a very high per centage of houses were second homes. This made it very difficult for local people to secure affordable housing. He said: "These holiday home owners also use council services. It is therefore very important that we are able to charge a significant levy over the Council Tax as a disincentive rather the current situation where these holiday home owners receive a substantial discount."