RICS puts housing on emergency budget wish list for Scotland
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Scotland has called on Chancellor George Osborne to use his upcoming emergency budget to ensure stability and growth in the Scottish property sector.
The organisation said the general election painted a clear picture of the Scottish political landscape, but clarity and certainty remain somewhat absent from the Scottish Government’s ability to pursue progress in the housing, property and infrastructure sectors.
It also believes that the Scotland Bill making its way through Westminster will, when enacted, provide the Scottish Government with an enhanced level of fiscal responsibility.
However, in its wish list for next week’s emergency budget, RICS Scotland has focused on three key measures that can develop the housing, property and infrastructure sectors to drive forward economic recovery in Scotland.
- Establish a coherent devolutionary settlement – there is an urgent need for the Scotland Bill, and the further devolution of powers, to be agreed and settled, as there is a sense of uncertainty arising that could lead to diminished investor confidence. This, in turn, could damage the property and infrastructure markets.
RICS Scotland said: “We therefore urge the UK and Scottish Ministers, and MPs, to work closely on this in the context of Smith Commission implementation and devolutionary settlement.”
- “Ring-fence infrastructure investment - in the context of spending cuts and borrowing constraints. Infrastructure is the lifeblood of economic growth, creating housing, connected communities and the foundations for transport, utilities and 21st century connectivity.
RICS Scotland said “RICS welcomes the admission by UK ministers that the cut in public infrastructure spending was too much too soon at the start of the last parliament, and the new Conservative government in Westminster must avoid making the same mistake twice.
“Whilst Scotland benefits from UK government increases in capital investment - through Barnett Consequentials – they are not obliged to invest in the same sector. Should the UK government decide to invest in infrastructure, we would encourage the Scottish Government to do the same.
“At a UK level, the Chancellor’s proposals to restrict government borrowing must not be allowed to impinge on capital budgets – which would affect Scotland’s finances; there needs to be a clear distinction between borrowing to spend and borrowing to invest – infrastructure is an investment in future economic growth.
“Furthermore, spending must be targeted at schemes that will drive the highest economic impact across Scotland; projects such as Next Generation Broadband, A9/A96 dualling and Glasgow terminals. Our priority programmes are a result of discussions with members to deduce the infrastructures needs of Scotland.”
- Issue a Cities Devolution Prospectus- to set out what new funding, powers and responsibilities are on offer and how they will work. The direction of travel with more powers and funding devolved to cities is clear. This could be a great opportunity for property led growth. The package that is on offer needs to be backed up by a prospectus, explaining best practice in how all the mechanisms for regional growth should be wielded, in order to rebalance our economy.
RICS Scotland added: “A City Prospectus would help more Scottish cities and towns to consider bidding for City Deals. Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness are to benefit from City Deals, and we would urge these cities, and other future recipients of City Deals, to look to property-led growth.”