Saturday 10 January 2004

More on the Council Tax

The Scotsman's Bill Jamieson shares my concerns about the removal of the second home discount.

Explaining that most second homeowners are not multi-millionaires, Mr Jamieson writes:

They are, in the main, quiet, modest, hard-working Scots who have saved out of their taxed incomes to buy a holiday home in the country they love. They are not the "idle rich" or "tax cheats". Nor should they be treated as if they are.

They make relatively light demand on council services such as schools and social services. But they do bring in a lot of spending that would not otherwise come to a rural area. They spend in local shops, pubs and restaurants, and employ local services for renovation and refurbishment. And when they let out these little properties, they bring in others who spend.

Treat them like milchcows for tax, and you risk driving Scots out of Scotland. Doubling their council tax is as good a way as any of closing down VisitScotland and boosting the tourist industries of France, Spain and Portugal at the expense of our own.

Sometimes you can't help wondering if our politicians are paid agents of competing countries!

Here is another point made by Mr Jamieson:

Councils may argue that they need the money for "social housing". But it is not at all clear whether more council housing, as opposed to private-sector starter homes, is the answer. Planning restrictions and the cumbersome nature of the planning system are also a major factor behind lack of suitable property for local workers.
The Scottish business community is up in arms about the harm done by the planners to industry and we see here that the planning regime lies behind the shortage of homes for young people. Scotland does not need any more council houses - now described in politically correct speak as "social housing". Aren't all houses for social use? At one time Scotland had a higher proportion of council housing than many of the communist countries in Eastern Europe. Let's do away with our damned dependency culture. Free up the market, sell off the last remaining "social" houses, fire all those unproductive consumers of the council tax and liberate the people.