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Draft Budget promises greater city deal spending in Scotland

Words: Roger Milne
Money / iStock-185267728

Ministers have promised to double the Scottish Government’s spending on city region deals as the administration announced its Draft Budget for 2018/19.

The budget statement also included news of a £150 million Building Scotland Fund to unlock new housebuilding and develop new low-carbon commercial property.

The statement highlighted a programme of infrastructure spending totalling £4 billion, which included £756 million for affordable homes, £600 million for a superfast broadband programme, £60 million for low-carbon infrastructure, including electric vehicle charging, and £1.2 billion for road and rail schemes.

These include key road projects such as improvements to the A9, and on rail the electrification of the Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa line, improvements to the route between Aberdeen and Inverness, and on the Highland Main Line between Inverness and Perth.

The statement revealed that the administration is currently in early discussions with the Highland Council, Aberdeen City Council, Mallaig and Stornoway Harbour Trusts on possible Growth Accelerator schemes like those already set up in Edinburgh and Dundee.

The Scottish Government, along with the UK Government, remains committed to delivering City Region Deals for each of Scotland’s six city regions. “Positive progress across these deals continues to be made,” ministers insisted.

The devolved administration is currently in negotiations with Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils on the Stirling City Region Deal, and with Perth, Dundee, Angus and Fife councils on the Tay Cities Deal. The Scottish Government’s financial commitment to these deals will be confirmed in 2018.

The government has also pledged to work with local authorities outside of the city regions where regional economic partnerships are seeking growth deals. It is already in discussion with the Ayrshire, Moray, Argyll and Bute, Falkirk and the three island councils. Alongside this, the administration is continuing discussions with local authorities to shape a Borderlands Deal “to drive inclusive growth across the area”.

RTPI Scotland welcomed the infrastructure spending and an increase in funding for planning, from the current £1.8m to £5.2m in 2018/19. It urged councils to expand investment in the planning service.

RTPI Scotland Convenor Stefano Smith FRTPI said: “We are pleased the Scottish Government have recognised the value of planning […] However, we need to make sure that the funding, particularly for city region deals, is used within a long term planned context if it is to support transformational change. This will require strong strategic planning arrangements.”

The Draft Budget can be found on the Scottish Government website.

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