The Scottish Government’s budget proposals to support economic growth, maintain its commitment to provide a social wage and deliver sustainable public finances today secured the backing of Scotland’s Parliament.
The 2013 -14 spending plans will see overall capital investment for the year reach £3.4 billion, provide a further capital stimulus supporting jobs in the construction sector and further growth in the wider economy, despite a Westminster cut of 26 per cent to Scotland’s capital budget.
Additional funding for colleges, road maintenance, entrepreneurship and housing has been added to plans outlined in September’s draft budget.
The Budget maintains the Government’s commitments to a council tax freeze, police numbers, no tuition fees, free prescriptions and concessionary travel, with protection for the NHS budget.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said the package agreed today delivers on the Government’s commitment to engage positively with all parties to deliver a budget that meets the needs of Scotland’s economy and its people.
New announcements today include:
- An increase in funding for colleges of £61 million over the spending review period, compared to numbers outlined in the draft budget statement.
- An additional £38 million for the housing budget, increasing funding for energy efficiency of homes to contribute to our climate change targets, and more affordable housing. It brings the total housing supply funding to £859 million, enough to exceed our housing target of 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this parliament.
- £2 million to bring vacant town centre properties into residential use.
- An additional £10 million for trunk road maintenance. The National Road Maintenance Review published in 2012 highlighted that for every £1 spent on road maintenance in Scotland there is a £1.50 benefit to the wider economy. The additional funding will be used to deliver essential road and bridge repair works identified as part of Transport Scotland’s detailed inspection programmes.
- £1 million to double support for entrepreneurship through the EDGE fund.
Addressing the Parliament Finance Secretary John Swinney said:
“Today’s budget is a budget for the Scottish economy.
“We are meeting our commitments to the people of Scotland and investing every penny we can in sustainable economic growth.
“This year we will invest £3.4bn in capital projects in the face of drastic budget cuts from the UK Government. We are investing in small business through the small business bonus, continuing our support for young people through Opportunities for All and capitalising on new opportunities in the low carbon economy.
“This government is using every available opportunity to boost economic growth. An additional £38m for housing will take our investment in new affordable housing to £830m, and will also see increased investment in housing energy efficiency to help to tackle fuel poverty and meet our carbon emission targets.
“To support our entrepreneurs we will double the highly innovative Edge fund, which is already providing opportunities for new businesses to grow and will help ensure Scotland’s future success.
“Public sector reform is an essential part of securing and improving services for the future. The college reforms being implemented will result in reduced costs and an improved student experience. These reforms have made good progress and I believe it is now important to give the college sector the stability it needs to move forward. The Scottish Government will invest an additional £61 million in our colleges over the next two years to ensure that funding levels for our colleges remain stable and that the focus of our colleges is firmly on delivering the best possible education for our young people.
“Within the constraints of devolution our budget prioritises construction, skills, employment and a green economic stimulus. We have taken steps to mitigate the damage being done by Westminster welfare reforms and to make sure our public services are fit for the future.
“Through immediate infrastructure investment we are providing a boost to Scotland’s construction sector and wider economy and we are also maintaining the most supportive business environment in the UK. This is what we are able to do with the limited powers at our disposal. With the full fiscal and economic powers of independence the Scottish Government could do even more to strengthen our economy and create jobs.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Investing in affordable homes supports Scotland’s economy, promotes growth and maintains jobs in our construction industry.
“It is estimated that this £38 million package will enhance the energy efficiency of 8000 new and existing homes, fund 2000 adaptations to help older and disabled people live independently, and deliver 350 new affordable homes.
“The Scottish Government attaches real importance to delivering new housing, to the quality of our housing, and to what housing investment does for the economy.
“With the full powers of independence and prudent use of borrowing powers, we could do so much more making a very substantial difference to our economy both now and in the future.”
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell said:
“The Scottish Government is committed to a successful college sector and is maintaining the number of college places we fund. Today’s announcement will provide stability to the sector as we continue to deliver an important programme of reform and efficiencies that will open up a brighter future and create real improvements for learners.
“Colleges will still be focused on supporting young people into employment and developing the economy, but a settlement higher than at any point before the current administration came to power clearly demonstrates that we are a listening government and that we have fulfilled our promise to the sector, as we have always said we would.”