Dear James McGovern,
I write to enquire as to the justification of the current system of
exempting students from payment of Council Tax. At present, a flat
containing three students only pays no council tax. In a flat
containing three professionals only, each must pay one third of the
total council tax for the property. In a flat containing two students
and one professional, the single professional must pay three quarters
of the council tax for the property. Why is the professional living
with students so penalised? He or she pays 225% as much council tax as
a professional living in the same property with other professionals.
Do you believe this is fair? Why must the professional pay for the
students in this case when the whole community pays for the students
who live in a flat on their own? Can you promise to try to reform the
system to be more supporting of students - who are isolated under the
present one - and fairer to young professionals, who may find it
convenient to live with students in many circumances?
And I got a very prompt and full reply, by post. I'm actually fairly impressed:
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He makes a good point about the difficulty of every family with students trying to get a discount, but I do think there's a difference - I'm not acting as a parent or guardian or anything like that. Still, working it differently for HMO situations is an interesting idea - in principle each room should be considered a separate residence for council tax. That would make some kind of sense, though I think there would be bugs to iron out when one or more rooms are unfilled.
I guess I should write to my MSP now.