SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to looking at ways of recouping money allocated to second home owners by the UK Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme. Scotland’s Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur announced the plans during Wednesday’s debate on cost of living support in the Scottish Parliament.

There are approximately 850 second homes in the Western Isles, and the estimated total which could be generated by recovering the £400 payments from non-primary residences is likely to be in the region of over £340,000. Local authorities would then spend the funds raised on supporting local cost of living responses on a fair and equitable basis.

Commenting after the debate, Allan said:

“Resources must be targeted at those who are in most need of help during this cost of living crisis, and, to many, the idea of second, third and fourth home owners receiving £400 from the UK Government for each property they own is unfair at best.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s plans to work with COSLA and local government to examine how best to implement the recovery of these funds, something which could potentially be done through a council tax levy. The UK Government holds most of the powers needed to tackle the cost of living crisis, including over energy, minimum wage levels, national insurance payments, fuel tax and VAT, and the vast majority of social security spending. However, they are not doing anywhere near enough to help those who are already struggling under the weight of rising costs across the board while wages and social security payments are not increasing.

“The Western Isles unfortunately experiences the worst levels of fuel poverty in the country, and so the £340,000 which could be generated if this levy is implemented could make a difference in helping those least well off here to cope with the current cost of living crisis.”

 

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