Blog: Scottish Liberal Democrats Manifesto: where small builds big

Hew Edgar
Hew Edgar

By Hew Edgar, policy manger (Scotland) at RICS

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have indicated support for small businesses, housing and infrastructure in an ambitious and ‘green’ agenda.

The party had already hit the headlines with a promise of 300,000 new homes – the construction of which will be supported through a housing investment bank that will provide long-term capital and attract investment for major house building projects.

This figure, which would certainly assist in levelling, if not reducing, house prices and rents, is good news for those who cannot afford to begin the housing journey. Better yet, where the market falls short of this figure, government agencies will directly commission homes for sale and rent to fill the gap – an appreciated gesture of commitment to the cause.

A drive for national and local governments to source labour locally and facilitate new entrants through public procurement policy and community banking, along with a reformed business tax that makes small businesses a priority for any business tax cuts, will help 70 per cent of the RICS membership. However, with the RICS Construction Market Survey indicating a shortage of skilled workers across the UK, these proposals may be hindered.

Infrastructure-wise, in addition to a 10-year rolling capital investment plans (which we hope will prioritise projects by benefit rather than ‘next in queue’ basis), the Scottish Liberal Democrats will build upon the welcome City Deals for Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, and bring HS2 to Scotland.

Good for the UK’s under-invested, aging infrastructure; jobs; connectivity; and the economy as a whole. However, it will be interesting to see how compatible these policies are with their proposed five ‘Green’ laws that will establish legislation covering transport, buildings, energy and waste.

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