The Scottish budget: what it means for remote and rural communities

The Scottish Government has set out its budget plans for the year ahead.

The Draft Budget includes new investment in public services, as well as new measures to support business, jobs and economic growth.
Here’s what our plans mean for remote and rural communities.

  • We will deliver an additional £304 million in NHS resource budgets in the year ahead, with more health care delivered in the community.
  • We will continue to invest in the Rural Housing Fund to increase the supply of long term affordable housing of all tenures in rural areas, and the complementary Islands Housing Fund which focuses on Scottish Islands.

  • We are committed to delivering superfast broadband to 100 per cent of premises by 2021, bringing our rural and remote communities closer to the markets they need.

  • Investment of £39.2 million in 2017 will support initiatives to improve 4G coverage and lay the groundwork for future 5G deployment in Scotland.

  • We’re investing in motorway improvements and the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie to Tipperty projects, and the A9 Dualling programme. The first section – between Kincraig and Dalraddy – is scheduled to be completed by summer 2017.

  • The Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on routes in the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network will be protected and new action will be taken to reduce fares on services to Orkney and Shetland. Two new major vessels are being built on the Clyde for routes serving Arran and the Western Isles too.

  • Travel to the Highlands and Islands will continue to be supported through the Air Discount Scheme which offers a 50 per cent discount on core air fares.

  • We will deliver the Scottish Rural Development Programme to support the rural economy, including increased support for the food and drink sector.

  • Rural relief delivered through Business Rates will be expanded, increasing relief from 50 per cent to 100 per cent for certain shops, post offices, hotels, pubs and petrol stations – matching the UK Government change.

  • We will pass on all guaranteed EU funding to ensure direct support to farmers and investment in rural and coastal businesses, services and communities continues.

Watch: the seven things you need to know about the Scottish budget.