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Scottish Budget backs affordable homes, city deals and digital infrastructure

Words: Roger Milne
Derek Mackay

Finance secretary Derek Mackay this week used the country’s Budget statement to announce investment in new and existing infrastructure projects to support sustainable economic growth.

The headline measures included a commitment to complete the Queensferry Crossing, over £470 million direct capital investment to begin delivery of 50,000 affordable homes and over £140 million for energy efficiency programmes to help deliver Scotland’s climate change targets.

Thursday’s (15 December) announcements also involved over £100 million investment in digital and mobile infrastructure, including support for the commitment to deliver 100 per cent broadband access by 2021.

Mackay highlighted substantial funding for strategic transport projects and city deals. He said the administration would “further develop the city region deals we have agreed with Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen and make progress with deals for the Edinburgh City Region, Stirling (and Clackmannanshire) and the Tay cities (Perth and Dundee together with Angus and the north of Fife).

“We will also encourage regions facing economic challenge to identify and deliver a vision for inclusive growth, beginning with the proposals being developed by the three Ayrshire Councils.”

Mackay revealed he had signed, with Dundee City Council, the financial agreement to allow the so-called Dundee Central Waterfront Growth Accelerator initiative to go ahead, supporting economic growth in the area, and 500 jobs.


"We are pleased to see the Government's commitment to invest in housing. We need to ensure there is funding to help deliver the essential services and infrastructure that arise from new housing development. It is also vital that we see investment in the planning service to help deliver this, especially as we have seen a 20% drop in planning department staff between 2010 and 2015. Currently only 0.63% of local authority budgets are directly spent on planning.”
Craig McLaren, director,  RTPI Scotland

“The £470 million capital investment in housing is a welcome move as a means for the Government to meet its 50,000 affordable homes target by the end of the parliament, however, there is a lack of detail on any future funding or investment for the development of other housing tenures, which are also in very limited supply.

“The current LBTT bands and thresholds has caused a slowing of house sales in the middle and upper price brackets, and the Cabinet Secretary announced no changes to the current regime. This is a missed opportunity to provide exemptions for older people downsizing or exempting new build homes from the additional dwelling supplement for buy-to-let investors after a set period of time that would boost activity, and start to shift the static market that currently exists in the middle and higher market areas.

Gail Hunter, director, RICS in Scotland


“The draft Scottish Budget contained a modest increase in funds towards meeting the 50,000 affordable homes target. The £470 million announced is in line with the £3 billion committed over five years, but it is important that this funding grows at a level that will allow this target to be met and contribute towards solving the nation’s housing crisis.

“While we are still awaiting full details of the proposed budget that will be announced in the coming days, we welcome the announcement of £47 million to continue to mitigate the ‘bedroom tax’ and £10.9 million for other Discretionary Housing Payment (DHPs) uses. However, it remains to be seen if this will cover the increased pressure on DHPs, for example caused by the UK Government’s Benefit Cap.

Mary Taylor, chief executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Image credit | Scottish Parliament