A COMMITMENT to providing rural, ‘affordable’ housing, reform of land ownership and a possible outright ban on disposal vapes are among the headlines in the ‘2023-24 Programme for Scottish Government’, First Minister, Humza Yousaf’s first.
In a speech – which he summarised as “anti-poverty and pro-[economic] growth” – to the Scottish Parliament, he said the following:
“We will also introduce a Housing Bill to introduce long-term rent controls and new tenant rights, and to establish new duties for the prevention of homelessness.
“We will continue to work to reduce the number of people living in temporary accommodation. We will invest £750 million to support the delivery of affordable homes, and meet our target of securing 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.
“Ten per cent of those homes will be located in rural and island communities because we know those communities are facing housing challenges.
“But we also know those communities are not passive. We see in the likes of the Arran Development Trust, the Mull and Iona Community Trust and Staffin Community Trust real ambition in supporting new housing.
“We have been working with local government, business, the ‘third sector’ and – crucially – local communities to publish an action plan for housing in rural and island areas later this year.
“We have established a £25 million fund to provide homes for key workers in rural areas. Across Scotland, we will invest £60 million this year to acquire empty properties for use as affordable homes.”
He added: “Following consultation, I can confirm we will also enable councils to apply a premium on Council Tax rates for second homes – a demonstration of our desire to empower local government to tackle the challenges they face.
“And we will introduce a Cladding Remediation Bill and ask this parliament be given the powers to introduce a levy in Scotland mirroring the UK Government’s Building Safety Levy for England.”
He continued: “In the year ahead, we will continue investment in important infrastructure, including, of course, continued investment in the construction of six new ferries by 2026. And alongside our record investment in active travel, we’ll re-open the Levenmouth rail line, electrify the Glasgow to Barrhead line and open a new rail station at East Linton.
“We are, of course, committed to improving the A96 – including dualling the road from Inverness to Nairn, with a Nairn bypass.
“And, let me be crystal clear, Presiding Officer: this government, my government, will dual the A9 from Inverness to Perth.
“I can confirm today we have launched the procurement for the Tomatin to Moy section as the next step in that work.”
And he went on: “When it comes to Scotland’s land, it is clear too much of our land is in the hands of too few. Our Land Reform Bill will make land ownership more transparent and will also give communities more opportunities to own land. We will step up to the challenge. We will seek to be bold and radical, and we will continue to develop proposals for crofting law reform.”
He also said: “We will also take forward work on a Green Industrial Strategy. We will consult on a Heat in Buildings Bill, and we will continue to promote a circular economy. We will publish our final energy strategy and just transition plan. We will continue to protect and enhance our natural environment. And, crucially, we will continue to show global leadership in international climate discussions.”
Plus, he declared (read more, here, on the Scottish Government website): “I hear too often about how common vaping is amongst our young people. In the next year, we will take action to reduce vaping and particularly amongst children.
“The government will also consult on curbing the sale of disposable single use vapes, including consulting on an outright ban.”
The full ‘programme’ can be viewed here.
Picture credit: Place Design Scotland
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