Empty homes tax to raise £130 million
Councils will be given new powers to increase council tax on Scotland's 25,000 long term empty homes raising up to £130 million over four years to build low cost homes, it was announced today.
The changes are expected to deliver around 800 homes annually and support 1,500 jobs in the construction sector and wider economy.
The measures are contained in a new policy paper, Homes Fit for The 21st Century, which sets out the Scottish Government's vision for housing to 2020.
There will be a decisive change in the way affordable housing is delivered, using Government funding to lever in the maximum possible investment from other sources and encouraging innovation.
Unlike plans set out by the UK Government, social tenants in Scotland will be protected with a cast iron guarantee that secured tenancies will be maintained
In Glasgow, Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said:
"Today, I am unveiling a bold new vision for housing in Scotland because I believe that everyone should have a safe, warm home which they can afford, and because we are committed to ensuring that this becomes a reality.
"These proposals are firmly rooted in financial reality and framed against the major challenges stemming from the credit crunch and the savage cuts inflicted by the UK Government.
"We are setting out a radical agenda with profound implications for the way we invest, the way we make use of existing housing, and the way we support our people in their housing choices.
"Scotland needs many more new houses and to significantly enhance the quality and sustainability of our existing housing stock and the surrounding neighbourhoods.
"We are committed to the future of social housing in Scotland and we will continue to have a social rented sector with security of tenure for tenants at its core.
"There are around 25,000 long term empty homes across Scotland, located in urban, rural and island communities. They represent a wasted housing asset and have a negative impact on the quality of Scotland's cities, towns and villages.
"We also recognise the need for Government support for the growing number of people priced out of home ownership, struggling to afford market rents but unable to access social housing.
"That is why we will support home ownership in a balanced and sustainable way, including the growth of innovative products such as shared equity and rent-to-buy.