Darling hit with holiday home tax

SCOTTISH Secretary Alistair Darling is set for a rude awakening after it emerged that his family’s hideaway holiday home in the Outer Hebrides will become one of the first properties to be hit with a council tax levy.

Western Isles Council announced plans last week to impose extra tax demands on second home owners in its area, creating a 90 per cent council tax levy on holiday homes and long-term empty properties.

The move, introduced by the local authorities policy and resources committee, will bring in an extra 300,000 a year to pay for social housing for the needy. At present, 1,303 properties in the Western Isles have a 50 per cent discount on council tax.

Mr Darling’s family own an old blackhouse on Great Bernera and the Secretary of State holidays a few weeks a year there, after he restored the building. Mr Darling has strong family connections to the area through his mother, whose ancestors have links with Great Bernera.

Though the council will not discuss individual cases, it is believed Mr Darling’s home is regarded as a second home.

Announcing its intentions to increase second home bills, the Western Isles Council welcomed the announcement by the finance minister, Andy Kerr, that local authorities will have the discretion to reduce the current 50 per cent discount on council tax on second homes and use the money to build social housing.

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