THE Scottish Budget has proposed more than £5 billion of capital investment to “grow and modernise” the nation’s infrastructure, including a new £50 million Town Centre Fund to support high streets.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also announced more than £825 million as part of a total investment in excess of £3 billion to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of the Parliament, and initial funding of £130 million towards the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank
The Budget Statement has been welcomed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Scotland. Gordon Nelson, director of FMB Scotland said, “Today’s Budget comes hot on the heels of the latest Quarterly Housing Statistics for Scotland, published yesterday, that revealed a four per cent increase in the number of new build homes in Scotland over the year ending June 2018, compared with 2017. Although a step in the right direction, this constitutes just 695 additional homes and such an increase will not solve the housing crisis. We’re therefore pleased that the Finance Secretary has recommitted the Government to establishing a Scottish National Investment Bank as this will help provide finance to the small building firms.
“A further £50 million to support lending to the house building sector has been announced through the Building Scotland Fund and this is also welcome. Many small-scale house builders are experiencing real difficulty in accessing the finance they need to build homes, with fees, overdraft limitations and meagre loans posing a significant barrier to house building. This new funding will help to speed up the delivery of homes and lead to a more diverse and resilient housing supply.
“It’s also positive that the Scottish Government has announced a £50 million capital fund and has acknowledged the importance of investing in our high streets. There is a dire need to re-invest in Scotland’s floundering town centres in light of changing patterns of retail and leisure. The Government should therefore be commended for its ambition to safeguard the vitality of our high streets. All in all, this was a good budget for Scottish builders.”
David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation said, “Overall there are two key incentives for development and investment that we are pleased to see retained in the Scottish Government’s Budget. These include the business growth accelerator business rates incentives for new development and business occupiers; and the exemption from the Additional Dwelling Supplement for large scale Private Rented Sector investments, intended to support the new build to rent market. These are important incentives to stimulate housing supply and economic growth.
“Business rates reform remains an important issue for our members and we welcome the Scottish Government’s decision not to implement the out of town supplement which would have done little to support town centres. This news, coupled with the introduction of a new £50 million fund and the decision to cap the CPI poundage increase will be important mechanisms for encouraging diversification on our high streets and supporting hard-pressed retailers and others.”