Housing crisis set to deepen even further as Scottish Budget passed

Housing crisis set to deepen even further as Scottish Budget passed

HFS director of policy Fionna Kell

The passing of the Scottish Budget 2024/25 at Holyrood yesterday will perpetuate housing inequality across the country and limit the number of new homes coming forward across all tenures, sector body Homes for Scotland (HFS) has warned.

The Budget includes more than £1.3 billion for the Wellbeing Economy, £1bn for the road network, around £2.7bn for public transport and active travel, almost £556 million in the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, more than £400m for energy efficiency upgrades and to promote the circular economy, and an increase of £128m to the education and skills budget.

With a cut of 27.7% to the Housing and Building Standards Budget and further cuts of 26% and 43% to the Affordable Housing Supply Programme and Planning Budget respectively confirmed, HFS director of policy Fionna Kell said: “Whilst we welcome the Deputy First Minister’s commitment that housing will be treated with priority should further funds become available as a result of announcements by the Chancellor next week, the Budget passed today will only serve to deepen the housing inequality being felt across the country and risks losing the significant socio-economic benefits that come through increased home building across all tenures.

“The cuts come at a time when multiple Local Authorities have declared housing emergencies and recent independent research has shown that there are 693,000 Scottish households facing at least one form of housing need.

“Instead of cutting housing budgets, now is the time to maximise the wide-ranging socio-economic benefits offered by ensuring Scotland has the homes it needs to meet the needs of its people.”

SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas said the Budget plunges Scotland ever deeper into a housing crisis.

She added: “The decision to slash nearly £200m from the affordable housing budget underlines that the Scottish Government’s support for social housing in Scotland is unravelling, and this will have real consequences for tackling poverty and homelessness across Scotland.

“The news will also serve as devastating news for the 250,000 people waiting on a social home and the 10,000 children growing up in temporary accommodation.

“Safe, warm, affordable housing is a basic human right. With this Budget, we are undermining that right.”

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) said the budget cut will have a tangible impact on housing delivery across Scotland.

Dr Caroline Brown, director of RTPI Scotland, said: “Cuts agreed yesterday to the Scottish social housing budget signify a significant setback with tangible consequences for communities across the nation.

“Central government funding is crucial for the delivery of new housing. The Scottish Government’s ambitious housebuilding goals are already lagging behind, and these cuts will exacerbate the situation, placing additional pressure on Scotland’s already overworked and overstretched local planning authorities.

“This budget cut will have a tangible impact on housing delivery across Scotland, and create further tensions in local authority budgets. Our research has found that the budget for planning services has already been slashed by 38% between 2010 and 2022 and a quarter of planning department staff was cut between 2009 and 2022. At the same time, new duties and responsibilities are falling on planning authorities, requiring them to do more with less.”

The Scottish Government said its Budget ensures funding can be targeted towards the missions of supporting public services, growing the economy and tackling poverty.

Spending commitments include:

  • £13.2bn for frontline NHS boards, over £1.5bn for policing and nearly £400m to support the fire service
  • Over £5bn to help create jobs, support businesses, aid the transition to net zero and fund public transport to provide viable alternatives to car use
  • £6.3bn for social security benefits, £200m to help tackle the poverty-related attainment gap and £1.5m to cancel school meal debt
  • Over £14bn for local authorities – the highest settlement yet delivered for local government.

Deputy First Minister and finance secretary Shona Robison said: “I am pleased that Parliament has approved our Budget, allowing us to enact our spending plans in the face of a deeply challenging financial situation. This is a Budget which stays true to our progressive values: investing in services, growing our economy, protecting vulnerable people and tackling the climate emergency.

“We have taken decisions which prioritise funding in the areas that have the greatest impact on the quality of life for the people of Scotland – despite the challenges caused in large part by the UK Government’s failure to invest in public services and infrastructure. Our block grant funding from the UK Government has fallen in real terms since 2022-23. Our capital spending power is due to contract by almost 10 per cent in real terms over five years – that’s around £1.6bn in total, equivalent to the cost of building a large hospital.

“I have written to the Chancellor urging him to change course, using next week’s Spring Budget to increase funding for public services and infrastructure instead of cutting taxes.”

Share icon
Share this article: