Last November the Scottish Government laid draft legislation before Holyrood to enable Scotland's 32 local authorities to double council tax on second homes. A month later Perth and Kinross, where my wife and I have a second home in St Fillans, voted unanimously in principle of that 100% tax increase on 1160 such properties in its area.

My immediate reaction was one of alarm and rage at a punitive, usurious measure to crack a problem – the scarcity of affordable housing – that is much more complex and an issue blighting Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Paying £300 a month on top of £200 a month in Edinburgh or £6000 a year on council tax could simply be unaffordable, forcing us to move out and, in the view of some, rightly so as this would free up our wee lodge for folk excluded from the property-owning market.

But hang on, I thought later, had I been hoisted by my own petard?

After all, I'd written a blog for The Villagers magazine that used to circulate in St Fillans, Lochearnhead, Balquidder and Strathyre (and is sadly no more).

It began: "A poster on the notice board at the village store arrests my attention: "33% of the national park’s (Loch Lomond & The Trossachs) adult population earn less than £25,000 a year making it unaffordable for them to own a home here. This has savage implications for the future of the park and our own village. If you’re a catastrophist you might think: death."

I pointed out that home ownership in the UK as a whole is declining (from a high of 65% in 2018 – 62% in Scotland); it takes an average couple nine years to save for a deposit compared with three years 40 years ago. Only around a quarter of young adults on middle incomes own their own homes, often only because of parental help.

READ MORE: Pavement parking is a problem a ban will not solve

According to Stuart Mearns, the park authority’s Director of Place, writing in the Herald, 75% of national park households cannot afford average house prices even though, he says, 69% of new builds between 2018-22 are rated “affordable.”

He wrote: “Commuting, retirement and an increased desire for rural living post-pandemic are thought to be key factors driving up housing pressures, alongside increasing numbers of holiday homes and rental properties, which although beneficial to the visitor economy have resulted in affordable homes being removed from the local housing system.”

I commented: "As an elderly incoming second-home owner, I can only concur: I don’t represent the village’s future…"

That judgment remains unimpaired but needs to be expanded and, as our German friends put it, relativisiert.

Grant Laing, Perth and Kinross Council leader, says doubling the council tax on second homes from April 1 this year would raise £2m to  "protect jobs and protect services".

The Herald: Council tax bills could riseCouncil tax bills could rise (Image: File)

But asked by a fellow SNP councillor if the extra income would "raise money or solve the housing crisis" he admitted that in Year One it would simply help close the strategic budget deficit. That funding gap, of course, has arisen because the Scottish Government has, since 2010, imposed the bulk of the austerity imposed on it in turn by Westminster on Scottish local authorities.

Investment in affordable housing will come – if at all – from Year Two onwards after officials identify "sites for affordable and social housing across the whole of Perth and Kinross."

Or, rather, half the extra tax on second-home owners will be used this way.

Mr Laing hedged his bets even on this: "... given the financial challenges we currently face; given that we don’t have our funding for next year yet; given that it may take time to generate this income and given that the legislation has not yet been laid, I am suggesting that is not for just now."

So, there's no guarantee the money will ever be hypothecated for housing.

The real issue lies elsewhere and cannot be resolved by this discriminatory measure affecting a few people like me (there are 123 second homes in my council ward of Strathearn.

As another SNP councillor suggested: "The real barrier to building housing in rural locations is actually land and not necessarily the finances to do it with."

Scotland as a whole is in the middle of what Shelter calls a housing emergency. Solace, the body representing council CEOs, says there are 240,000 on waiting lists for social housing – with the number available each year for tenants around a tenth of that.

“The social sector needs to grow by at least 125,000 homes just to meet current demand. However, since 2022 just 18,583 affordable homes have been delivered and the supply of affordable housing has fallen 20 per cent in three years,” Cleland Sneddon, Solace chair, said.

READ MORE: Scottish independence: SNP needs to see beyond public sector

In rural areas the housing shortage and inadequate transport links are barriers to the ability of working-age and young people to find a home and jobs, says the Loch Lomond and Trossachs park authority in its partnership plan. Social housing is the key here.

Indeed, what Scottish rural communities need is an influx of young people with the knowledge and skills to handle and master the twin green and digital transitions to a new economy. Without immigration, Scotland’s ageing population is set to decline from today’s 5.4m towards the 5.2m mark by mid-century.

So, we need a government policy that encourages inward migration, including to rural communities, to offset that decline – and rejuvenate our society and nation. Singling out second-home owners as a source of funding is at best a woefully inadequate response.

David Gow is a former Guardian correspondent in Europe who co-edits and chairs the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Scotland Europe Initiative