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Scottish Land & Estates statement on “mixed bag” Scottish Budget

19/12/2023
Stephen Young (Scottish Land & Estates)

SCOTTISH Land & Estates has said the Scottish budget is a ‘mixed bag’ in delivering growth in rural Scotland. 

The rural business organisation spoke following Finance Secretary Shona Robison’s statement at Holyrood today. 

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Among the measures particularly affecting rural areas: 

  • Freezing the poundage on the basic property rates 
  • Maintaining the Small Business Bonus Scheme 
  • A commitment to maintaining direct support for farmers and crofters at pre-Brexit levels 
  • The next phase of A9 dualling to be progressed 
  • A consultation on accelerating the planning system in early-2024 

Stephen Young, Director of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates, said: 

“After trails suggesting a doomsday scenario in the Scottish budget, the outcome is probably as anodyne as could be hoped for by rural Scotland. However, we now need to study the detail beyond the statement delivered in parliament and this will be key to what is to come in future years. 

“Measures to freeze the poundage on the basic property rates and maintain the Small Business Bonus Scheme are positive and will allow some space for businesses that have been coping with inflationary pressures. 

“We’re pleased to hear that progress on the long-awaiting dualling of the A9 is planned and the announcement of measures to accelerate the planning system will warmly welcomed by rural communities and businesses. 

“Whilst the Scottish Government claims it will maintain direct support for farmers and crofters at pre-Brexit levels, we need to examine exactly what is meant by this.  It is extremely concerning that while we seek to mitigate climate and biodiversity crisis, we are seeing a reduction in funding for agri-environment schemes.

“The budget for agriculture has already seen reductions, including the much-discussed missing £33million that should have gone to Scottish farmers. As we transition to a new support framework, we must have clarity over how food production and land management will be backed moving forward.  

“We are also hugely concerned by the huge cut in funding for the building of new homes.  The failure to deliver sufficient new housing stock is the key issue behind problems in the housing market – a problem that the government instead tries to solve by unfairly targeting landlords. 

“First Minister Humza Yousaf spoke encouragingly of resetting the relationship with business when he took office. Whilst we recognise the tough fiscal backdrop, the Scottish Government needs to do more to deliver on that promise and ensure growth is not choked off.”

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