LOCAL authorities are to receive new powers to tax empty homes that could help raise millions to build new affordable housing.
The Council Tax on Empty Homes and Housing Support Grant Bill proposals could apply to the 2552 properties that have currently been empty for more than six months and are liable to pay council tax in Edinburgh.
It would also apply to an estimated 384 empty homes in West Lothian and 341 empty homes in East Lothian
If all local authorities in Scotland decide to use the maximum powers, they could raise up to £30 million per year to spend on much-needed affordable homes.
The bill will also abolish the Housing Support Grant, which was originally established to subsidise local authorities’ housing budgets by helping pay interest on housing debts.
Launching a consultation on the proposals, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil said: “Although the public purse is under huge financial strain the Scottish Government is doing all it can to increase the supply of affordable housing.”