The Scottish Government has committed to spending more than £5bn on infrastructure.
In the 2019/2020 Scottish Budget, published today (12th Dec), the Scottish Government announced it would allocate the funding to grow and modernise infrastructure – including a new £50m Town Centre Fund to support high streets.
Further, the Budget states the Scottish Government will pledge more than £825m to build affordable homes – as part of its total investment in excess of £3bn to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of the Parliament.
The budget also proposed an increase of nearly £730m for health and care services, including additional revenues generated by tax deductions mitigating the shortfall in NHS funding.
Mr Mackay further confirmed that the Scottish Government’s tax policy will ensure 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland pay less than people earning the same in the rest of the UK – while continuing to raise revenue to support investment in the economy and public services.
Mr Mackay said: “This is a budget of stimulus and stability. It delivers for today and invests in tomorrow and does so with fairness, equality and inclusiveness at its heart.
“It provides an increase of almost £730m for our health and care services, invests more than £180m to raise attainment in our schools and gives a vital boost to our economy through a £5bn infrastructure programme.
“As a result of these decisions, we have been able to invest in essential public services, particularly the NHS, while ensuring 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland pay less tax than those earning the same income in the rest of the UK.
“This budget delivers the public services, social contract and economic investment people expect while mitigating, where we can, the impacts of the UK Government’s policies of austerity and Brexit that are causing so much harm.”
Callum Chomczuk, national director of CIH Scotland, said: “It is vital that funding for affordable homes is maintained across this Parliament and the next in order to end our housing crisis. This money will help deliver on that commitment.
“In addition the real terms increase of over £210m for local government spending is vital so local authorities have the confidence to set out future spending plans which continue to invest in Scotland’s homes and communities.
“However we are disappointed to see a roughly standstill budget with regards to both adaptations funding and fuel poverty.
“Given our ageing population, adaptations are one of the most effective interventions that support older and disabled people stay in their own home.
“And with 25% of households considered fuel poor in 2017 it is clear we need to do much to make sure everyone can live in a warm, energy efficient home. More of the same is not enough.”
Sally Thomas, Chief Executive at the Scottish Federation of Housing, said: “We are pleased to see the annual percentage of the £3bn allocated to meet the 50,000 affordable homes target jump up next year to £825m. It shows the programme is accelerating towards meeting the target.
“This is in no small part due to the new build programme of Scotland’s housing associations.
“The £50m fund to tackle homelessness previously announced is also welcomed.
“In order to make rapid rehousing for homeless people work, it will be vital that much of this fund supports people to maintain their permanent tenancies; without this, ensuring a long term home and independence for people who most need it cannot be guaranteed.
“Housing associations have a 90% success rate in sustaining long term tenancies for previously homeless people; it is essential this is at least maintained and where possible increased.
“Independence in their own home is a priority for many of those with disabilities across the country, and all of us as we age. So it is disappointing to see the adaptations budget standstill at £10m.
“SFHA research earlier this year identified an annual shortfall of £7m for adaptations required in housing association homes to enable people to stay in their homes, return to them after hospitalisation and promote physical and mental wellbeing.
“Housing associations play an increasingly significant part in Scotland’s ambitions to be a fairer and more equal society.
“We are pleased to see measures in the budget which recognise this. We will continue to work closely with government to ensure that together we can create the legislative and financial environment which enables housing associations to maximise their contribution.”
The 2019/20 Scottish Budget also includes:
- A commitment to continue delivering a progressive income tax system
- A public sector pay deal that continues the journey of restoring pay levels and provides an above inflation pay uplift of 3% for those earning up to £36,500
- Providing the most generous package of business rates reliefs in the UK, and ensure more than 90% of properties in Scotland will be charged a lower tax rate than other parts of the UK
- More than £600 million in colleges and maintain investment at more than £1 billion in universities
- Increasing direct investment in mental health by £27m, taking overall funding to £1.1bn, including improving mental health services for young people, and providing support in schools, colleges and universities
- Increasing investment in Health and Social Care Partnerships to more than £9bn for delivery of primary and community health services
- Delivering new and improved social security benefits based on dignity and respect
- Providing local government with a real terms increase in both revenue and capital funding, and a real terms increase in total overall support, through a £11.1bn settlement
- Almost £500m to expand funded early learning and childcare, supporting the recruitment and training of staff and investment in building, refurbishment and extension of around 750 nurseries and family centres
- Initial funding of £130m towards the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank
- Protect the police resource budget in real terms
- More than £20m for zero waste, supporting the transition towards a more resource-efficient, circular economy, including design and implementation of a deposit return scheme
- £80m for Active Travel to help build an Active Nation
- Continuing to invest in the £50m Ending Homelessness Together fund
- More than £70m in 2019/20 to drive forward sustainable and inclusive growth in the rural economy