Thursday 8 January 2004

No taxation without representation

Tory MSP Brian Monteith explains here why the planned removal of the "second homes" discount on council taxes won't have quite the effect that some are expecting:
Your report gave the impression that scrapping the discount would result in "extra" income, when in fact councils determine the amount of revenue needed to meet their budgets and then set council tax levels accordingly. Therefore, the removal of a discount from one group of taxpayers should result in a decrease in all other council taxpayers’ bills to collect the same amount of revenue.
What exactly is wrong with the existing discount? People who own second homes do not receive the same "benefits" from their local councils as do full time residents. You can't have a child in two schools at the same time. Refuse is not generated simultaneously at two houses. Your car isn't using up two streets at once. Yes, the police may be protecting both of your properties - unless you're a Norfolk farmer of course - but that's about it. The discount should stay and along with it there should be the entitlement to a half vote at local elections.