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The responses to our consultation made it clear that, in rural areas, second home ownership has an adverse effect on the availability of affordable housing for local people. Therefore, the money gained from reducing the discount will be routed to registered social landlords for the provision of affordable housing. We believe that that is a balanced decision that will reassure those who are paying the revised amount of council tax that the money will be spent wisely.
I know that rural councils appreciate what has now happened and the fact that they will be able to use the money for housing. However, Highland Council wonders why 10 per cent is being retained and why it cannot completely abolish the discount and keep all the money for housing.
I am well aware of the member's work in the Highlands, particularly the work she does for Highland Council's homeless for Christmas campaign.
Our decision was made because we want there to be a flow of information on the number of second homes that are owned in rural areas. The 10 per cent discount is an incentive for the owner to register the second home so that we can analyse what is happening with second home ownership. I hope that, through the mechanisms in which the Executive is investing, registration of social landlords will increase and that the number of homes available for those in the local community will likewise increase.