LETTERS: Landlord tax will push Scottish rents higher

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The decision by the Chancellor in his budget statement to end tax deductions for buy-to-let mortgages is shocking and unfairly discriminates against landlords who provide valuable housing across Scotland.

In other businesses tax is applied on profit, which is as it should be. Although we welcome other measures in the budget, such as reforms to the rent-a-room scheme, which will increase supply of affordable rented accommodation, the decision on buy-to-let mortgages means landlords will essentially be taxed for investing in their businesses - something utterly unthinkable in any other sector.

As a result of this increased cost and risk to landlords, you may see some within the sector feeling they are forced to increase their rent levels, which would obviously have a huge negative impact on tenants.

The Scottish Association of Landlords have been working constructively with both Shelter and the Scottish Government to find ways of increasing supply to drive down rent levels in hot-spots across Scotland, but this decision by the Chancellor potentially takes the legs away from that valuable partnership.

We will be consulting our members, Scottish MPs and MSPs, as well as the Scottish Government and the third sector to find ways of trying to overturn this decision or, at the very least, to mitigate the damage this could cause to our business and to our customers in Scotland.

John Blackwood, Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords”

Solar power industry starts to lack energy

With banner headlines the solar industry declared on 3 July that a sixth of the UK’s power came from sunshine.

It was quite ironic to read this article as the rain came down in torrents.

The industry is saying that solar energy would be as cheap as fossil fuel electricity by 2020, that 56,900 jobs would be created and solar would need no subsidies.

The wind industry have also made similar unrealistic claims.

Those who can afford to pay for solar panels are being subsidised by their neighbours who can’t.

The industry talks of a new generation of batteries being developed to store energy, but in Spain proposed legislation would force owners of solar-plus-storage systems to pay additional taxes.

Over the last five years the Spanish government has rolled back subsidies for all renewable energy technologies and this has been especially adverse for the solar industry.

Spain’s Supreme Court recently rejected a lawsuit brought by solar developers against the Spanish government for cutting solar subsidies.

Still think solar is a good investment?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Mixed history of the Confederate flag

I SEE that the USA is understandably concerned about the Comfederate flag after recent murderous events.

But it is not simply a matter of slavery. The south came into being as an attempt to have a right to secede from the Union - Lincoln was determined to prevent this and didn’t promise to abolish slavery until half way through the civil war, when the north struggled.

There is a Scottish dimension - various historians have postulated that the novels of Walter Scott actually inspired the war.

When Andrew Carnegie visited Dunfermline he was shocked to find great support for the Confederates, as in Lancashire, due to the cotton trade.

RJ Chisholm, Clifford Road, North Berwick

Be a Heart Hero and help a great charity

May I invite your readers to become Heart Heroes and use some of their precious spare time to volunteer for British Heart Foundation Scotland’s Furniture & Electrical Store.

You can get involved in a number of ways including becoming a warehouse volunteer, working on the eBay site, assisting on the shopfloor and supporting with collection and delivery orders by telephone.

You don’t have to commit to full days or a certain number of times in a week; they are keen to hear from anyone who has a few hours to spare.

Volunteers are at the heart of the charity and BHF Scotland simply wouldn’t be able to continue their life saving work without them. Every minute people can spare is greatly appreciated and provides unique opportunities for volunteers to get something in return.

BHF Scotland volunteers can not only join a happy team, but can also use and develop the skills they already have. They can also keep their foot on the career ladder, work towards qualifications and gain some excellent experience.

You could also support the fight against heart disease by donating your unwanted furniture, to raise valuable funds in the fight for every heartbeat. BHF Scotland operates a free collection service which can be booked on 0800-915 1111 or, for larger furniture and electrical items, visit bhf.org.uk/free.

To find your nearest BHF Scotland Store call 0800-915 1111 and for more information on volunteering opportunities visit bhf.org.uk/volunteer

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, BHF Ambassador for Research and Retail

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