We are disappointed that the Scottish government’s call for a programme of accelerated capital spending of some £350m in the Budget has not been answered
It does appear that the chancellor ducked the opportunity to build economic recovery in Scotland by refusing to allow a further acceleration of money for investment in capital projects.
But given the situation we now face, it is time to re-open the Scottish budget for next year and fundamentally reassess our priorities. The construction industry has shed 30,000 jobs over the past two years and construction apprentice places are predicted to fall by half this year. Some 160,000 Scottish school pupils continue to be taught in poor or bad school environments. The number of Scottish households on housing waiting lists is at a record high. In October 2007, the Scottish government set a national goal to raise the rate of housing supply to 35,000 a year by the middle of the next decade. Early forecasts for 2010 suggest as few as 12,000 homes will be completed, way short of the Scottish government’s target.
While appreciating that this is a consequence of money accelerated into this year’s Budget, councils still face a major reduction in funding for affordable housing next year. And however vital the project is, the new Forth Crossing will tie up more than £2bn of public money over the next five years. In the face of these facts, I believe that more could and should be done to free up more of the money we have – and mobilise private capital – to invest in those frontline projects that will help build our recovery.
Michael Levack, chief executive, Scottish Building Federation
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