Scottish budget: what it means for rural communities

The SNP budget for the year ahead has been passed by the Scottish Parliament. You can read a summary here.

The SNP is committed to supporting people who live in rural and remote areas of Scotland – here’s how the Draft Scottish Budget will do that.

  • We have committed £600 million to delivering superfast broadband to all homes and premises by 2021. The first phase of the programme will focus on delivering superfast broadband access to Scotland’s rural and island communities, to provide a truly national fibre network.
  • We will produce a Rural Skills Action plan to enhance employment opportunities for young people in rural communities.
  • We will invest £756 million in 2018-19 towards delivering 50,000 affordable homes by the end of this Parliament, part of our commitment to invest over £3 billion in affordable housing by 2021. This will include continued investment in the Rural and Island Housing Funds.
  • Overall, £4 billion will be invested this year in infrastructure, including £1.2 billion in improving transport links. This will include work to dual the A9 and make it Scotland’s first electric highway; improvements to the Aberdeen and Inverness rail route; and improvements on the Highland Main Line between Inverness and Perth. Construction will also begin on the A77 Maybole Bypass.
  • The health budget will increase by £400 million, with £110 million for the reform of primary care, supporting our GPs and health centres to meet the changing needs of their communities. We will also provide additional funding to increase GP numbers by 800 over the next decade, with more support to recruit and retain GPs in rural areas.
  • The local government resource budget will be protected in cash terms and the capital budget will be increased in real terms – resulting in a total increase in local authority core funding of £94 million.
  • An initial £10 million will be invested in the establishment of a South of Scotland development agency.
  • The budget protects the Small Business Bonus Scheme, which lifts 100,000 properties out of business rates altogether.
  • We will support our high streets with an additional £100 million of business rates support, this will ensure Scotland has the most attractive package of rates relief anywhere in the UK. A new Growth Accelerator will ensure that new or improved properties pay no rates for a year.
  • We’ll keep bills down and homes warm by investing £100 million to support energy efficiency programmes.
  • We will continue to protect the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services routes.
  • In 2018-19, we will reduce passenger and care fares on ferry services to Orkney and Shetland – meeting our manifesto commitment to do so.
  • We will provide financial security to Scotland’s farmers and crofters by delivering a reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Within CAP we will continue to deliver the Scottish Rural Development Programme which includes advice for new entrants of the sector.
  • The budget for Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been maintained, allowing continued support for the rural economy.