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Caithness.org News Bulletins -  November 2002

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The Convener of The Highland Council, Council, Councillor David Green, has welcomed a Government announcement that the Council Tax discount offered to second home owners in England is being significantly reduced.

Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford has ruled that local councils in England will get the power to cut the 50% discount that exists for second homes to10% and use the expected (Pounds)65 million raised to invest in local services.

The Welsh Assembly has already agreed to end the concession allowing people to pay only half the normal Council Tax on second homes.

Councillor Green has led the campaign to persuade the Scottish Executive to follow suit and is hopeful that councils will soon be given the discretion to charge 100% and invest the monies in vital local services.

In Highland, there are more than 6,000 properties receiving discount. The potential gain is 3 million.  He said: "We have expressed clear and consistent views on this issue and I believe the time is right, with the movement in England and Wales, for the Executive to drive through new legislation.

"We want the additional income to be ploughed back into local essential services, such as teaching our children, caring for the elderly, repairing our roads and improving our stock of affordable houses to help us sustain the rural communities in which these second homes are located."