Council unanimously approves 100% council tax rise for second homes 

Under the terms of draft legislation, from April 1, 2024 Scotland’s local authorities will have the power to vary the rate for second homes.

Perth and Kinross Council unanimously approves 100 per cent council tax rise for second homes  iStock

A 100% council tax increase on second homes has been unanimously approved by Perth and Kinross Council in principle.

Under the terms of draft legislation, from April 1, 2024 Scotland’s local authorities will have the power to vary the rate for second homes.

The increase would generate around £2m in 2024/25 which council leader Grant Laing said would be used to “protect jobs and protect services”.

Tabling the motion at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council on Wednesday, December 6 Laing told councillors half the money generated from 2025/26 would then be allocated towards delivering affordable/social housing in rural areas.

The 100% increase will be implemented from April 1, 2024 when the new legislation – once ratified – comes into force.

There are a total of 1160 second homes across Perth and Kinross’ 12 council wards.

The largest number are in Highland Perthshire where there are 488 with 123 in Strathearn ward and 121 in Strathtay ward. The lowest number of second homes are in Perth City North which has 11.

Conservative councillor Angus Forbes asked if the purpose “was to raise money or solve the housing crisis”.

Tabling the motion SNP council leader Grant Laing said: “The report sets out the potential additional income of in excess of £2m.

“This year that £2m will be used to help close our strategic budget deficit. It will be able to protect jobs and protect services and that’s what we will use it for this year.”

He added: “Since the concept of charging a premium for second homes was introduced, I have consistently argued that it should be applied to the provision of affordable housing.

“However given the financial challenges we currently face; given that we don’t have our funding for next year yet; given that it may take time to generate this income, and given that the legislation has not yet been laid, I am suggesting that is not for just now.

“Instead, I am intending to commit 50% of the net amount raised in the 2025/26 and 2026/27 budget process to deliver much required affordable and social housing in rural areas.

“This time lag will give us time to make evidence-based decisions and see the actual figures we achieve.

“In moving this report today I am also giving an instruction to officers to
accelerate the identification of sites for affordable and social housing across the whole of Perth and Kinross.”

Seconding deputy leader council leader Eric Drysdale added: “From 2025/26 we aim to direct part of the income generated from this change as much as we prudently can towards future funding of much-needed affordable homes in our rural areas.

“It’s notable that over 90% of these second homes are located in these rural areas and so that is only right.”

The motion was unanimously agreed. Opposition Conservative group leader John Duff – who represents Highland Perthshire ward – said the council leader’s comments on how the money would be spent were “very welcome”.

Labour Perth City North councillor Brian Leishman said: “This proposal gives us the chance to do something that will benefit many, raise revenue, provide vital council services and – down the line – to use at least some of it for the good of social housing. I’m 100% supportive of the 100% increase.”

SNP councillor Tom McEwan – who convenes PKC’s Housing and Social Wellbeing Committee – urged councillors to seek out land in rural areas.

The Blairgowrie and Glens councillor said: “The real barrier to building housing in rural locations is actually land and not necessarily the finances to do it with.

“I do advocate that any councillors in rural areas, you really need to start influencing the landowners and owners of vacant properties to see if they’ll give those properties or bits of land.”

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