Argyll council tax discount for second homes could be removed
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.’