The Scottish Budget

The Scottish Budget has been delivered by Kate Forbes MSP and included some important announcements. The proposals, to be implemented from April 2021, will need a parliamentary majority to back them in the coming weeks. She described the measures as potentially the “most important in the history of devolution”.

Here are some of the key points:

Housing and property

Here at Urban Union, we welcome the news that first-time buyer relief for LBTT will remain in place for the next financial year – this increases the nil rate band to £175K for first time buyers.

The temporary increase in the zero rate Land and Buildings Transaction Tax band will end on April 1st. From July the threshold for paying the Scottish version of stamp duty rose from £145,000 to £250,000. It will go revert back to £145,000 from April 1st 2021.

There will also be a new £55m programme to support town centres and community-led regeneration projects.

Jobs

Job creation was at the forefront of the measures announced, with a new Green Workforce Academy, a £100m Green Jobs Fund, £7m towards making Scotland a hub for digital business and £115 additional funding for the Young Person’s Guarantee.

Public sector workers earning up to £25,000 can receive at least a 3% pay increase via a £750 cash underpin, while there is a 1% rise for those earning above that amount, capped at £800 above £80,000. In addition, £98.2m has been allocated to improve Scotland’s digital infrastructure and deliver access to high quality broadband and mobile coverage.

Health

Health received record funding of over £16bn. This is an increase of 5.3% on the 2020 – 2021 financial year, along with £869m towards tackling coronavirus, including funding for the vaccination and test and trace programmes.

£1.9bn has been allocated to primary health care to help deliver more services in the community with a further £550m earmarked to build new Elective Care Centres and the Baird Family Hospital and Anchor Centre in Aberdeen.

Local government

Local authorities are being given £90m in order to freeze council tax and £259m one-off funding. The Scottish Government will also increase a scheme which compensates councils for the loss of income from sales, fees and charges due to the pandemic from £90m to £200m in 2020-21.

Child welfare

An allocation of £711.6m for affordable housing and £68m for the first full year of the Scottish Child Payment aims to tackle child poverty.

More than £3.1bn in resource and capital investment has been allocated for education and skills, and £567m to provide 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare.

Police

The Scottish Police Authority has been allocated £1.3bn, including a £60m increase in Police Scotland’s revenue budget.

Transport

£1.6bn for rail and bus services and £100.5m for active travel to consolidate changes to healthy, green travel options seen during the pandemic.

Business

There will be a three-month extension to the pandemic business rates holiday – officially called the “100 per cent non-domestic rates relief” for properties in the retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors. This is worth £185 million and would be paid for by cash handed back by big retailers who did not require the support.