The Scottish government has published proposals to allow local authorities to double the council tax for second homes to “increase the availability of housing”.  

The governing Scottish National Party says, if approved by parliament, the secondary legislation would bring second homes in line with long-term empty homes, which can already be subject to a 100% premium on the full rate of council tax.   

There were 24,287 second homes in Scotland last September, according to official figures.  

Second and long-term empty homes are subject to a default 50% discount on council tax in Scotland.  

However, local authorities can vary council tax charges and the majority already charge second home-owners the full rate of council tax, the maximum currently permitted, the SNP points out.  

The new measures, unveiled today after public consultation earlier this year, are expected to come into force next April.  

Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur says: “We want everyone in Scotland to have an affordable home that meets their needs.   

“While second homes can bring benefits to local economies, we know they can also affect local housing stock, pushing up prices for those looking to buy or rent.   

“That’s why we’re bringing in this legislation encouraging more housing to be used as homes to live in, seeking a fair contribution to local services from everyone.”  

The move is part of the SNP’s Programme for Government 2023 policy agenda outlined by party leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf in a speech at the start of the week as parliament returned from recess.  

Yousaf pledged to bring forward a housing bill that will “introduce long-term rent controls and new tenant rights, and to establish new duties for the prevention of homelessness”.  

He also committed to the government to invest £750m to build affordable homes, in line with its target of providing 110,000 low-cost homes by 2032.  

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