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Budget offers housing boost – but a squeeze on council spending in Scotland

Words: Roger Milne

This week’s draft Budget announcements for the financial year 2016-17 have sparked anger from local councils that now face a cut of £320 million in day-to-day local government spending, which is certain to affect planning services.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said the cuts were "totally unacceptable".

But the package of measures announced on Wednesday (16 December) by finance secretary John Swinney also included some good news.

These included a commitment to housing investment of £690 million, with an increase of around £90 million in affordable housing compared with 2015/16.

There will be further investment of £115 million in digital infrastructure to include next-generation broadband access to 95 per cent of the population by 2017.

Also promised is the delivery of the Queensferry Crossing and almost £1 billion for other infrastructure projects, including completion of the electrification of the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail line and Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations welcomed the boost in spending on housing, but stressed that this should be accompanied by an increase in the rate of grant per home that Scottish Government provides to help housing associations to build new affordable homes.

“This is essential if the future development potential of the sector is to be unlocked.”