Under consideration PE2026: Eliminate Council Tax discounts for second homes and vacant properties

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to amend the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to:

  • eliminate Council Tax discounts for second homes and vacant properties

  • make the property owner (rather than a tenant) liable for payment of Council Tax.

Previous action taken

I have contacted the following MSPs:

Kate Forbes (SNP) Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy. I was directed to communicate my concerns with John Swinney.

John Swinney (SNP) Deputy First Minister. (No Response)

Ben Macpherson (SNP), Minister for Social Security and Local Government. He is also my constituency representative. (No Response).

I received a letter from the Local Government Ministry. They concurred with my assessment that the change to the City Council Tax Code would require action by the Scottish Parliament. They also provided information that the issues of alternatives to the City Council Tax had been discussed by a working group, but not this measure. They also stated that my proposal was timely.

Background information

Scotland is currently suffering from a housing crisis. There are insufficient residential properties available for rent and purchase. Tens of thousands of residential properties remain vacant or are used as holiday rentals by investors.

Eliminating Council Tax discounts for vacant homes and vacant properties will dramatically increase the number of properties available for rent and sale, and so should mitigate the housing crisis and enhance tax revenue. Enhanced payment of Council Tax will enable the city councils to provide essential services.

Moreover, making the property owner responsible for payment of Council Tax should reduce the extent to which councils lose revenue because of people being unable to pay. The city council tax is a tax upon the property, it is not a tax on services. Therefore, it is just and equitable that the owner of the property be responsible for payment of the property tax.

City councils are suffering from inadequate finances to provide essential public services. The primary cause for the shortfall in city council funding is the non-collection of Council Tax that is due. In Edinburgh alone, the number of residential properties in arrears for non-payment of Council Tax was:

  • 2020—5,714

  • 2021—8,342

  • 2022—31,198

  • Created by Sam McCahon
  • Considered from 25 April 2023
  • Petitions can collect signatures until the petition has been closed

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