The Scottish Government published its draft 2017/18 spending plans this afternoon. It was also formally presented to Parliament by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay MSP.
The most high-profile budget elements include a £120m package for schools to address the attainment gap, £470m capital investment to initiate progress towards 50k affordable homes in the current Scottish Parliament term, local government funding, an expanded Small Business Bonus Scheme, and a commitment not to change income tax rates/bands in line with the UK.
SURF’s quick summary of the regeneration-specific elements are as follows:
The Social Justice and Regeneration Directorate’s budget will fall by £700k or 1% from £60.5m in 16/17 to £59.2m in 17/18.
The Directorate’s budget priorities are identified as: “to tackle social justice… mitigate against UK Government welfare cuts… continue to support regeneration initiatives which respond to local circumstances, involve local people in identifying the issues and co-create solutions, address market failure, and increase opportunities to attract investment and jobs in disadvantaged areas.“
A number of regeneration commitments are confirmed on p94, including:
- “We will provide nearly £55 million to invest in the regeneration of disadvantaged communities” [which includes continuation of the People & Communities Fund & Regeneration Capital Grant Fund programmes]
- “We will invest a total of £20 million in the Empowering Communities Fund directly supporting the aspirations of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015”
- “We will stimulate activity under the Town Centre Action Plan and support the implementation of the Town Centre First Principle”
- “We will deliver the Aspiring Communities Fund as part of the European Social Fund strategic intervention to accelerate the design and delivery of sustainable community-led solutions to poverty and exclusion.” [the size of this fund is not stated]
The document also confirms:
- Anti-poverty commitments previously revealed in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, including the introduction of a Socio Economic Duty on public bodies, which featured in SURF’s 2016 Manifesto (p85-87).
- Inclusive economic growth plans, including the creation of a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency, which SURF also lobbied for (p76)
- The UK Government’s Autumn Statement concerning progress being made towards City Deals and Regional Partnership Plans in all Scottish cities (p155).
- Plans for major transport infrastructure projects, including the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, the dualling of the A9, and £35m in Glasgow Subway modernisation (p126-134).
- A 10% reduction in funding for SURF partner Highlands & Islands Enterprise, from £74.5m in 16/17 to £67m in 17/18 (p125).
- Plans to “modernise compulsory purchase orders to ensure vacant and derelict land can be brought into use for communities” (p100).
As the current SNP administration is a minority government, the draft budget is subject to negotiation and agreement with opposition parties in the coming weeks.