It was announced this week that the Scottish Government intends to give councils the power to double council tax on second homes – news which must have been greeted by a rueful laugh by anyone under the age of 35, who are doing well if they can manage one home.

The most recent housing statistics published by the Scottish Government found that 4% of properties were vacant or second homes, and those figures do not include holiday lets.

In addition, the private rented sector in Scotland has more than doubled since 1999, with Holyrood’s annual household survey finding that around 15% of households were living in private rented accommodation compared to 5% in 1999.

There’s a clear age disparity, with 53% of households where the highest earner is between 16 and 34 owning their own home in 1999, falling to 38% in 2019. The latter figure is the same as for private rented accommodation, which 20 years previously had made up just 13% for those in that age bracket.

Read More: SNP Government to consider empty homes owners having to pay double council tax

For many younger people owning their own home is just not something they can aspire to. The cost of buying a house is, on average, five times the average household salary while across the UK house prices have risen by 65 times since 1970 compared to 35 times for average salaries.

Of course, this problem could be overcome by simply spending less time on TikTok or drinking soy frappuccinos and working a bit harder. Never mind that in 1970 the average house price was £4,057 (equivalent to £51,500 today) while it stands at a record £271,613 UK wide today.

Then there’s the issue of social housing. The percentage of households in social housing decreased from 32% to 24% between 1999 and 2019, numbers broadly in line with those for people aged between 16 and 34. The above numbers show that they’re not leaving council housing to buy their own homes, but rather into private lets to make money for landlords.

Read More: SNP to consider empty homes owners having to pay double council tax

That has its roots in Margaret Thatcher’s Right To Buy scheme which, in a sort of modern day enclosure of the commons, took vast swathes of publicly owned properties and handed them over to individuals, with much of the remaining stock in less desirable areas. This is reflected in Scotland today, with 47% of people in the 20% most deprived areas living in council housing compared to just 2% in the least deprived areas.

While the Scottish Government scrapped the Right To Buy scheme in 2016 and has modestly increased the number of social housing units in the last three years, there is a real lack of both social housing and affordable private housing.

One solution is, of course, to build more homes both social and otherwise, and the current government has pledged to build 110,000 affordable homes by 2032. Doubling council tax on second homes is certainly a step in the right direction too, but why not be more bold?

Read More: Gaelic communities hammered by second homes and Airbnb

Stamp duty (or the land and buildings transaction tax as it’s called in Scotland) is devolved and rates for second homes currently range from 6% to 18%. Why not make it 25% to 75%? You’d likely see a vast reduction in the number of people choosing to buy a second home, whether to leave empty or rent out. That would in turn increase the number of available properties and drive down prices, or allow properties to be converted to social housing.

Compulsory purchase orders are, ordinarily, used primarily for squalid flats but they could apply just as well to homes deliberately left empty while they acquire value, or Airbnb-style properties which inflate prices and damage Gaelic communities in more rural areas.

Many will respond that such measures would amount to a ban on second homes and private landlords. Young people unable to see the property ladder, far less get on it, may well respond: “Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”