Scottish councils should have power to vary property taxes, say Tories

Councils should have the power to change property taxes to better suit local areas, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Party leader Douglas Ross said local authorities should be able to vary Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) thresholds to take into account higher local prices.

It came as he outlined plans to increase housebuilding targets to 25,000 new properties a year.

Average home prices vary considerably across Scotland, with prices in parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh far higher than other areas.

Douglas Ross says councils should have the power to vary Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) thresholds

The Scottish Tories are pushing for the doubling of the Rural Housing Fund to help incentivise construction in remote and rural communities.

Its local government manifesto, to be published on Thursday, will also include a pledge that Tory councillors will support raising the national threshold for LBTT from £145,000 to £250,000 to take account of rising house prices.

Ahead of a visit to a construction site in Midlothian today, Mr Ross said: “Every working person across Scotland should have the opportunity to buy their own home.

“For too many people, property ownership has become an unattainable dream.

"Skyrocketing house prices are making it unaffordable, even for families with good incomes.

“We have to do more to promote housebuilding because the best way to address the increases in house prices is to build more homes.

"Across Scotland, there is a real need for more affordable and high-quality homes.

“We are setting out proposals to increase housebuilding across Scotland that would make homes more affordable and provide a huge boost to local economies.

“Scottish Conservative councillors will support increasing the rate of housebuilding and encourage home ownership for more working people across Scotland."

SNP MSP Paul McClennan said: "Since taking office, the SNP has taken action to help people right across Scotland become homeowners - this has included delivering 96,750 affordable homes since taking office, investing £240 million in the First Home Fund to help boost the deposit needed to purchase a property in Scotland and using Community Land Scotland to ensure the right land to deliver more housing in our rural area is found and utilised.

"By maintaining the current rates and bands for residential LBTT, including our First Time Buyer relief, almost 80 per cent of people in Scotland pay no tax on the purchase of their first home.”

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