THE areas of Scotland with the highest proportions of second homes have been revealed in a new report, which shows major hotspots in rural communities.

Overall, just 1% of all homes in Scotland are not the owner’s main residence – adding up to 23,890 across the country.

But there are wide variations across council areas, according to the briefing from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).

The areas with the highest proportion are Argyll and Bute and Western Isles Council, where around one in every 20 properties – 6% - is classed as a second home.

This is followed by Orkney Islands at 4% and Highland Council at 3%.

But the report also notes there are certain communities which have much higher concentrations – such as Arran, where around 25% of privately-owned homes are second homes.

READ MORE: Scottish Parliament to look into recovering £400 energy payments from second-home owners

In parts of Badenoch and Strathspey and Deeside, the proportion of second homes exceeds 20%, it said.

Local authorities can apply a council tax discount of between 10% and 50% on second homes, and since 2017 councils have also been able to apply no discount.

For 2022-23, 25 out of Scotland’s 32 councils have removed the council tax discount, while six have retained a 10% discount and one has a variable policy, the SPICe report said.

This contrasts to Wales, where councils can charge an additional amount of council tax up to 100% of the normal council tax rate on second homes – which will rise to a maximum of 300% from April next year.

In England, there are also plans to allow councils to charge extra council tax of up to 100% on second homes – but to implement such a policy in Scotland would need a change in legislation.

The SPICe report noted: “There are concerns that a high concentration of second homes can increase house prices, reducing housing supply for local people. A lack of affordable housing can also affect local businesses seeking to attract workers to the area.

“If second homes are left empty for most of the time, there could be a negative impact on the cohesion and sustainability of local communities.”

The National: The Scottish Parliament Information Centre The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Image: The Scottish Parliament Information Centre)

But it added: “On the other hand, there may be benefits from second homes. Second homeowners tend to be wealthier than those that don’t own second homes and if they regularly spend money in the local area this may benefit local businesses.

“Second homes used as holiday lets can also be crucial to support local tourist economies.”

The report noted there are a range of policy measures to address the issue of second homes in Scotland and the Scottish Government has pledged to give local authorities powers to manage numbers in its long-term housing strategy – but warned “tensions remain”.

“The Scottish Government is also reviewing the role of taxation in supporting its vision for both new and existing homes and communities,” it said.

“Although there is work underway, it’s not yet clear what specific proposals might come from the Scottish Government.”

READ MORE: Arran Development Trust calls for second home levy to fund affordable housing

A statement from the Arran Development Trust, a community organisation working to address housing issues on the island, said: “Lack of affordable housing has been the major contributing factor to depopulation and reduced growth on Arran going back many years, and the crisis is deepening.

“Public services, the year-round quality tourism product, and economic/community sustainability on Arran are now under threat due to a shortage of workers driven by the housing crisis.

“The Scottish Island Plan advocates that Islanders should have the same opportunities as people on the Scottish mainland, however, only 11% of Arrans housing stock is available for affordable rent compared to 24% in the rest of Scotland.

“Rents on Arran are also considerably more expensive than mainland North Ayrshire and with an average price of £273K, Arran properties are twice the average price of mainland North Ayrshire and well above the Scottish average of £205K.

“The fact that 25% of Arran properties are empty, second homes or buy to let properties creates a further shortage of housing for local residents and inflates prices.”