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Budget woes

February 01 2024

An update on what the Scottish Budget means for the country’s spiralling housing crisis. Spoiler: it’s not good. By Olivia Boyce

Operating under what Shona Robison, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, called the “worst case scenario for Scotland” in the aftermath of the UK Government’s Autumn Budget, the Scottish Budget was published in December.

The government set out a number of policies in the statement, included a fully funded 5% council tax freeze, £550m allocated for a supply programme of affordable housing to deliver homes for social rent, mid-market rent and low-cost home ownership, £6.3bn to be invested in social security benefits payments and for all Scottish benefits to be uprated by 6.7% in line with Consumer Price Index rate of inflation from September 2023.

However, analysis from the Fraser of Allander Institute has noted the Budget translates into a 37% reduction in resources for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme in the last two years. Sally Thomas, the chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, further criticised the allocation: “There is no plan on the table to replace the £200m lost from next year’s budget and the target of building 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 now looks like an impossible dream, both for the government and, more importantly, for the quarter of a million people waiting for them.”

Recent news reported that 781 people applied to live in a single council house in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, which reinforces the need for the government to keep up to speed with funding for the building of affordable homes.

Housing is not the only area experiencing fiscal deficiencies, as council leaders have also warned that Scottish Budget cuts have left councils at financial risk and could lead to the closure of public services and job losses.

It was only in October 2023 that North Lanarkshire announced plans to close nearly 40 sports and leisure facilities due to constrained budgets, and although they did reverse this decision, it appears that many more councils will be placed in similar positions trying to balance their budgets.