The Scottish Government has published the draft Scottish Budget for 2015/16. In a historic move, the Finance Minister John Swinney has announced changes to land and buildings taxes, the first time tax powers have been used by a Scottish Government in 307 years. The move means that first time buyers will find it easier to buy a house as they will not have to pay stamp duty. Couples on lower incomes will also find it easier to buy, however, those buying homes of over £1m will be subject to much higher stamp duty.
- £4.5bn infrastructure investment
- £330m for Schools for the Future Programme
- £140m for new college campuses
- £16.6m investment to take forward recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.
- The continuation of the Council Tax Freeze
- Investment of £390m for 6000 affordable homes and £125m for housing sector
- £300m for 600 hours of care for 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds
- Additional support for looked after children
- £81m for welfare reform mitigation
- Continued “social wage” (free prescriptions, free personal care, concessionary travel)
- Continuation of Education Maintenance Allowance and a minimum income of £7,250 for students in the most hardship
- Increase to the health budget of £288m
- £170m for integration of health and social care
- 1000 additional police officers
- Protection of local government budget
- Commitment to no compulsory redundancies
There is also a commitment to continue investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund and the Council Tax Reduction scheme, the latter of which will continue to assist those affected by the abolition of Council Tax Benefit. A number of other measures to support people and organisations affected by welfare reform are also referenced in the budget, however, some of these are continuations from 2014.
In recognition of the value of the third sector the draft budget states that:
“Our response to the UK Government’s welfare agenda, and to the delivery of public services, reflects the value we place on action developed and led by local people within their communities.
The third sector – our charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises – has a critical role to play. We have taken steps in this Draft Budget to support this sector, most notably additional funding to help with the integration of health and social care. Our response to the UK Government’s welfare agenda, and to the delivery of public services, reflects the value we place on action developed and led by local people within their communities.”
Source: Scottish Government draft budget