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Scotland's Programme for Government

Wednesday 06 September 2017

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out her Programme for Government this week, outlining actions the Government will take in the forthcoming year.

Since the General Election in June, it has become apparent that housing is a top priority for Government and voters alike. The latest Programme for Government documents the Scottish Governments plans for tackling the current housing crisis over the coming year and beyond.

In the paper, the Minister set out three key actions:

  • make further progress towards the target of 50,000 affordable homes by the end of the Parliament;
  • introduce a Warm Homes Bill to set a statutory fuel poverty target;
  • introduce new energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector.

The paper also addressed issues surrounding homelessness and rough sleeping, and made particular reference to Scotland's plan to renew their mission to tackle these deep-seated challenges over the next 12 months.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) Bill

The set rates and bands for LBTT have not changed since its introduction. The paper claims that the nil rate threshold up to £145,000 has kept around 20,000 additional house purchases out of tax compared to UK Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). The Scottish Government expects to take up to a further 10,000 house purchases out of tax in the year 2017-18.

Secondary legislation has also been introduced which will give retrospective effect to the application of the LBTT (Additional Amount – Second Homes Main Residence Relief) (Scotland) Order. The Order covers certain scenarios where spouses, civil partners or co-habitants jointly buy a home to replace a home that was owned by only one of them. Making the Order retrospective will mean that repayment of the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement will be able to be claimed by taxpayers meeting the relevant criteria in respect of transactions which occurred prior to the effective date for the Order.

Planning Bill

Responding to the independent review of the planning system, this Bill will ensure a greater focus on delivering the development Scotland needs with the infrastructure to support it. There will be a simpler, more effective system for preparing development plans, giving communities better opportunities to influence the future of their areas.

The proposals for planning reform include actions to support inclusive growth and investment such as a new approach to Simplified Planning Zones, modernising Compulsory Purchase Orders and building on current eDevelopment services with a Digital Taskforce.

Warm Homes Bill

The Scottish Government have said they are committed to tackling fuel poverty and improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s buildings. As part of a long-term Fuel Poverty Strategy, the Warm Homes Bill aims to set a new statutory target on fuel poverty to help ensure that progress is made, and that support is given to those who are most in need of help to heat their homes. 

They have promised to accelerate their work on Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP), which is to be rolled out from 2018, and will continue to invest in energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation over the next four years.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in her statement:

“This Programme for Government is our plan to seize opportunities. To build the kind of Scotland we all seek. It is a Programme to invest in our future and shape Scotland‘s destiny.

“The quality and supply of housing and infrastructure are just as important as rates of tax in growing our economy and attracting investment to Scotland.

“One of the most important contributors to a good quality of life is housing and our new Planning Bill will help secure the housing development that the country needs, as we continue work to improve the quality of our housing stock.

“Scotland has a good record on housing - we are building social housing at a faster rate than any other part of the UK and we have protected social housing by removing the right to buy.”

Propertymark's Strategic Development Manager for Scotland, Daryl Mcintosh commented:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to increasing housing stock in Scotland; improving the quality and supply of affordable homes remains a key factor which impacts so many people across the country. 

“In principle we support introducing energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector, however we caution the Government to make sure it doesn’t take a one size fits all approach, as those with rural homes in particular may struggle to meet minimum standards.”