Nicola Sturgeon to unveil plans to kickstart Scotland's economy
The First Minister will set out proposals to “stimulate the economy and support jobs” when MSPs return to Holyrood this week and she unveils her programme for government.
But the SNP leader is facing calls to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis amid opposition claims that the housing budget has been axed by £338 million since she became Scottish leader two years ago.
Sturgeon will unveil her programme for government on Tuesday as Holyrood reconvenes after its summer recess. She will also make a statement to MSPs the following day on the European situation, following the UK’s decision to leave the EU while most Scots (62 per cent) voted to remain.
The economic measures come after Sturgeon admitted recently that Scotland is currently suffering a “shock” as a result of the global oil price crash and said more action is needed to tackle onshore growth.
Sturgeon’s programme will also include school reforms aimed at tackling the attainment gap between schools in more affluent and poorer areas of the country. Measures to build a new Scottish security system will also be unveiled as Holyrood prepares to gain sweeping new controls over welfare as part of the post-referendum Smith Commission powers.
A fresh drive on land reform will be included in Sturgeon’s plans, as well as new proposals to tackle domestic abuse and improve the gender balance across civic life.
Labour say official figures show that spending on housing and community amenities has fallen by 25 per cent between 2011-12 and 2015-16 and by nearly 20 per cent – £338 million – since Sturgeon became First Minister. Labour is now calling for the SNP to match its plans for 60,000 affordable homes over the next five years, including 45,000 for social rent.
This could generate almost 50,000 jobs in Scotland and spearhead an anti-poverty drive.
Labour deputy leader and Communities spokesman Alex Rowley said: “The SNP is failing to address Scotland’s housing crisis. Whilst thousands of are trapped on social housing waiting lists and can’t afford a deposit, the SNP have slashed the budget for housing.
“Investing in housing will give people access to skills and apprenticeships, create jobs and cut poverty. It is baffling that the SNP don’t see that.
“I am asking the SNP government to face up to the crisis in housing in Scotland and next week up their game and set out a programme for housebuilding in Scotland. They should match our call for 60,000 homes over the next five years, 45,000 for social rent.”