Second home owners in the Borders to pay more

Monday January 29th 2024

Peebles from Tweed Bridge

Peebles in the Scottish Borders.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

Second home owners in the Borders with the “broadest shoulders” are to fund a £1.5m Council Tax bonus. A meeting of Scottish Borders Council has endorsed a doubling of the levy charged on second homes.

It will mean the owner of a second home property in Band C, of which there are currently 226, would face an additional charge of £1,054 a year.

The law change will generate in the region of £1.5m for the council on an annual basis.

Members of full council also agreed that a portion of the new cash raised – £30k – be used to fund an additional staff member to administer the new arrangements.

Mid-Berwickshire Conservative councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s executive member for Service Delivery and Transformation, said: “Whilst nobody wants to raise tax this creates a significant amount of revenue which will really help this council to deliver the vital services that we deliver for the people who really need it most.

“Whilst it does place an additional burden on second homes owners I’d like to suggest that they probably have the broadest and strongest shoulders to take that burden, so I don’t think it’s going to cause many people hardship.

“It may as well get some under-used properties back into full time ownership. I’m well aware that where my constituents live there are a number of second homes, and a number of empty homes, and anything we can do to boost the full-time population of the Borders is really helpful.”

A second home is a home which is furnished and lived in for at least 25 days in a 12 month period, but is not someone’s sole or main residence. Based on current records there are 1,055 second homes in the Scottish Borders.

Any new income received through charging an additional 100 per cent on second homes is not ring-fenced and can be used as general funding.

In a report to full council, Jenni Craig, SBC’s Director of Resilient Communities, says: “It is anticipated that additional funding of around £1.5m will be generated through the policy change detailed in this report, which will form part of the financial planning process for 2024/25.

“The use of this discretion will allow the council to meet local housing needs and support thriving communities. If this is achieved, more second homes will become a main residence, which we would expect to have a positive impact on the local economy.

“Given the increased administrative burden, officers suggest that some of the additional income to be raised is retained by Customer Advice & Support Service to allow the recruitment of one additional staff member.”

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