Monday, 24 February 2003

One tax for them, one tax for us

Fergus Ewing MSP wants to remove the 50% council-tax rebate that is currently available to second-home owners.

Mr Ewing says:

local authorities should be given discretionary powers to remove the special relief enjoyed by holiday home owners. "Those who purchase a house intending to use it for holiday purposes should be able to afford the full council-tax rate,"
Well, if ability to pay were the issue, I would point out that Mr Ewing and his fellow MSPs earn about twice the national average. I therefore propose that local authorities should have "discretionary powers" to double the council-tax paid by politicians.

Mr Ewing wishes to retain the 50% discount for a lucky few:

"I have been contacted by a number of crofters who point out that they have a heritage home acquired from their family passed on to them and that if the current discount of council tax for these properties - usually in the most remote areas - is removed, they would be unable to maintain the link with the croft."

"This is a distinct category, which should be acknowledged by Highland Council."

He said many people have had to leave the croft to find employment and it would be wrong to force them to extinguish the link with their families and culture because of the tax system.

This is outrageous. I am sure that many of the non-crofting second-home owners would love to live all-the-year-round in the Highlands and don't because they too need to earn a living elsewhere. Why are their heritage and their culture less important?