Ar­gyll coun­cil tax dis­count for sec­ond homes could be re­moved

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

A TEN per cent coun­cil tax dis­count on sec­ond homes will likely be scrapped by Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil to raise over more than £ 380,000 for af­ford­able hous­ing.

The Oban Times re­cently re­vealed that Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil es­ti­mates cuts of up to £40 mil­lion over the next three years to plug a pro­jected black hole in its bud­get.

A bud­getary out­look re­port, pre­sented to the Pol­icy and Re­sources Com­mit­tee on Oc­to­ber 27, was up­dated to re­flect ‘a wors­en­ing po­si­tion’ in Scot­tish Govern­ment fund­ing. The re­port said: ‘The fund­ing gap es­ti­mated over the three year pe­riod 2017-18 to 2019-20 has been re­vised to be be­tween £18.2mil­lion and £ 39.9m, with a gap of be­tween £4m and £13.1m in 2017-18.’

The re­port also iden­ti­fied how the coun­cil can make sav­ings and in­crease rev­enue, which in­cluded end­ing the 10 per cent coun­cil tax dis­count on sec­ond homes, which could gen­er­ate an ad­di­tional £ 382,000, if given coun­cil ap­proval.

‘The Scot­tish Govern­ment has given a com­mit­ment that leg­is­la­tion would be in­tro­duced to al­low coun­cils to end the coun­cil tax dis­count on sec­ond homes from April 2017,’ the re­port stated.

‘The dis­count cur­rently avail­able to coun­cils ranges from be­tween 10 per cent to 50 per cent and our coun­cil has ap­plied a 10 per cent dis­count. The ad­di­tional in­come from the 10-50 per cent dis­count is re­tained lo­cally and must be spent for the pro­vi­sion of new-build af­ford­able so­cial hous­ing to meet lo­cally de­ter­mined pri­or­i­ties. This in­come is trans­ferred to our Strate­gic Hous­ing Fund.

‘It is un­clear at this stage as to whether the ad­di­tional in­come from re­mov­ing the 10 per cent dis­count would also have to be routed to­wards af­ford­able hous­ing, al­though in a state­ment made by fi­nance sec­re­tary Derek MacKay he men­tions the ad­di­tional money could be used by coun­cils to “in­vest in lo­cal pub­lic ser­vices”.

‘It is there­fore as­sumed there is flex­i­bil­ity if we chose to re- move the 10 per cent dis­count. Re­mov­ing the 10 per cent dis­count could raise an ad­di­tional £0.382m in coun­cil tax in­come.

‘Coun­cil ap­proval would be re­quired to re­move the dis­count but on the ba­sis of the ad­di­tional rev­enue this would gen­er­ate, the as­sump­tion within the up­dated bud­getary out­look is that mem­bers would agree to the re­moval.’

Oban South and the Isles coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish, de­pute pol­icy lead for strate­gic hous­ing, wel­comed a re­moval of the sec­ond home dis­count. ‘I fully sup­port it,’ he said. ‘ We use that money in our Strate­gic Hous­ing Fund, which al­lows us to build more houses, which we des­per­ately need.’

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