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Housing and Construction News

Housing and Construction News

As the last full week of the Holyrood election campaign draws to a close, Scottish Labour finally publish their manifesto and pledges a ‘return to party’s roots’. Despite a buoyant press launch, media sources suggest a leadership challenge may be on the cards after next week’s expected poor results for the party. Elsewhere, the Scottish Greens maintain the momentum on housing matters claiming there is a ‘housing crisis’ in Scotland.  And a battle of potential shipyard job losses on the Clyde breaks out. All this and more in this week’s report…

Housing and Construction News

Scottish Labour Party launches its manifesto

The Labour party launched its manifesto this week, the last of the six main parties to do so and thus attracted criticism for being so late.  An estimated one in six voters have already voted by post.  The party’s plans for government have a strong focus on education including a pledge for a breakfast club in every school.  The manifesto also opposes renewal of the Trident nuclear weapon system – subject to all existing jobs being retained – and fracking, and promises to replace the council tax with a ‘fairer’ alternative.

On housing matters, the party notes that “there are 150,000 households on local waiting lists for social housing — because there is simply not enough housing for people to rent at affordable prices” and in terms of specifics:

  • We will build 60,000 affordable homes, with 45,000 of those for rent by councils, housing associations and cooperatives. These homes will be built to the highest standards of thermal insulation and at least 10% will be built to wheelchair accessibility standards. This will create jobs and help grow our economy.
  • We will regulate private rents — capping rent increases, so rogue landlords can’t get away with charging rip-off rents. We’ll consult on introducing a Charter — similar to that in the social rented sector — to drive up standards in the private rented sector.
  • We will ensure that, where a tenant requests it, the housing element (of Universal Credit) can be paid direct to social landlords, and that, for those that require it, the option is available to have Universal Credit paid fortnightly instead of monthly.

The full manifesto is available via this link:http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/page/-/images/Manifesto%202016/Scottish%20Labour%20Manifesto%202016.pdf

Meanwhile, UK Labour criticising response to £1 bn housing investment

Responding to the announcement that the European Investment Bank is to invest £1 billion in social housing in the UK, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing and Planning, John Healey MP, said: “Conservative Ministers have slashed investment for new affordable housing, so this new European Investment Bank funding for 20,000 affordable homes is a vital contribution to tackling the country’s spiraling housing costs.”

 

Scottish Greens campaign on housing ‘crisis’ in Scotland

Green co-convenor Maggie Chapman highlighted the issue of cold homes during a campaign visit in Aberdeen.Ms Chapman said there was a “housing crisis” in Scotland, and said her party would push for a “radical programme of house building” putting affordable housing “at the top of the agenda”. She said: “Now is the time to create many more jobs in energy efficiency and low carbon industries and that must come with greater investment. Now is the time to end the scandal of cold, damp homes.”

The wider Holyrood Election Campaign

Scottish Chambers Chief Executive warns of impact of higher taxation

The Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has warned that raising personal taxes in Scotland above the level of elsewhere in the UK will drive out talent and deter investment. Liz Cameron issued the warning during an election campaign which has seen the SNP, Labour and the Lib Dems outline economic policies that will see Scottish taxpayers pay more per head than south of the Border.

Final leaders’ debate of Holyrood campaign – Sunday night

The final leaders’ debate of the 2016 Holyrood campaign will take place this Sunday evening, at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh. The leaders of the five parties already represented at Holyrood (i.e. no UKIP) will take part in the televised debate to be chaired by BBC commentator Sarah Smith.

Challenge for Scottish Labour leader?

Media reports suggest that Labour’s election campaign has descended into chaos – as senior party figures appear to have briefed against leader Kezia Dugdale.  Unnamed sources are quoted saying former Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar, an MP until last May and certain to be elected a Glasgow list MSP next week, is planning to launch a leadership challenge in the aftermath of the election.

Parties tussle over potential job losses on the Clyde

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has called for “cast iron assurances” jobs will not be lost at Clyde shipyards because of contract delays after unions at BAE Systems have warned of possible delays to funding for the Royal Navy’s new frigates. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson insisted there was no change to the timetable, whilst Labour said it was vital that promises were kept.  The Lib Dems called for an end to uncertainty without offering any alternative options.

 

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • Anti-EU campaigners rally against President Obama’s comments, made during his last visit to the UK as President, urging the country not to pull out of the EU.
  • A new poll suggests that support for an EU Leave vote is 8% higher amongst Scots who voted Yes to Independence. The figures are: Yes – 39% (for Brexit) and No – 31%, with the remainder Don’t Knows.
  • The Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster is to hold two evidence sessions to examine the EU referendum and its impact on Scotland.  On 9 May the committee will hear from key industries such as NFU Scotland and Universities Scotland. It will then take evidence from in/out groups and UK ministers on 25 May. The MPs will also consider the repercussions for the future of the UK should individual nations vote for different outcomes.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan

Housing and Construction News

Housing and Construction News

The SNP was the latest party to outline its ideas for government over the next parliamentary term, with a highly staged manifesto launch (1400 people) at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Wednesday and a live YouTube feed. An overview of some of the party’s key policies on housing are including within this report, as is an overview of the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto which has also been launched since last week’s report. Other items making the news include Unison calling for a Scottish Government report into all buildings constructed under PPP as well as findings from a new poll which suggests that the SNP remain on course for another landslide in two weeks’ time. More on these stories and others are included in this week’s report.

Housing and Construction News

The Scottish National Party launches its manifesto

The SNP launched its manifesto this week, one which saw the party’s record on housing included as part of the party’s ‘achievements’. Its content on housing opened with: ‘Delivering the high-quality homes people deserve is also central to our ambitions to create a fairer and more prosperous country. We have a strong track record on housing in government, but we want to go even further.’ The party then goes on to outline what it would do during the next term if elected. This includes: investment of £3 billion to build at least 50,000 more affordable homes – 35,000 of these would be in the social rented sector.  The manifesto notes they would also support a further 5,000 households – including 2000 first time buyers on modest incomes – into home ownership through its Help to Buy and Shared Equity schemes. Another key policy would see the use of flexible grants, loans and guarantees, which the SNP claim would help bring empty or derelict properties back into housing use.

Scottish Liberal Democrats launch manifesto – housing focus

The Liberal Democrats have now launched their Holyrood manifesto. The party’s flagship housing policy would be to increase the number of affordable homes by 50,000 over the next Parliament. They would make sure that 40,000 of these are for social rent rather than purchase. The party notes that with private housebuilding returning to pre-recession levels this would mean around 110,000 new homes will have been brought into use by 2021 with one third of those available for affordable rent. In order for this to be possible, the manifesto included a list of things which would have to be done, including: supporting the continued innovation that has harnessed new forms of funding for Scottish housing and brought new types of property into use; expanding the Housing Fund for Scotland model that has seen investment in rented homes pioneered by a local government pension fund and using a proportion of any future Barnett consequentials from the UK which are classed as ‘financial transactions’ to fund new housing association properties as well as help-to-buy schemes.

Scottish Greens against luxury housing development 

The Scottish Greens have underlined their support for community right-to-buy as party co-convener Patrick Harvie joined campaigners near Stirling who were battling proposals for a luxury development on iconic greenbelt land. Park of Keir developers, backed by Judy Murray and Colin Montgomerie, have appealed the local council’s decision to turn down their application in December.

Unison calls for report into PPP schools

Following the wake of Edinburgh school closures last week, Unison has called for First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to hold an inquiry into all public-private partnership (PPP) building projects including those carried out under the SNP. Unison delegate Susan Kennedy said: “Don’t just investigate those schemes that suit you, Nicola.” Ms Kennedy added: “We want the next Scottish Government to commission an inquiry into all PPP infrastructure projects in Scotland. This inquiry should include within its remit what can be done to open up the contracts and charging regimes to public scrutiny.”

The wider Holyrood Election Campaign

New Holyrood poll shows little change to voting intentions

With just two weeks till Scotland goes to the polls, a new opinion poll for BMG shows little change in the strong lead that the SNP have had all the way through.  This shows them on track to repeat last year’s near wipeout of all the other parties at constituency level, with opposition parties fighting over list seats.  The full poll, excluding Don’t Knows, is:

  • Constituency: SNP 53; Labour 21; Cons 16; LD 6
  • Regional list: SNP 46; Labour 20; Tory 16; Green 8; LD 6

Campaign centres on the environment

Party campaigning centred on climate change this week. The SNP set out plans for tougher targets on climate change, while Labour called for a ban on fracking. Elsewhere, the Conservatives want to give councils the power to bring in moratoriums on wind farms and fracking while the Lib Dems say they want to plug the “black hole” in Scotland’s rural economy.” On missed climate change figures announced recently, the SNP’s Aileen McLeod said: “It has not always been easy but Scotland has been a genuine world leader in the area of climate change and green energy, and the latest evidence shows that we are on track to exceed our 42% target.”

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • HSBC release a report stating that while “a UK vote to leave the EU could dampen European economic activity” the real political threat comes from “referendum contagion”
  • Staying in the European Union is best for farmers, says NFU
  • Sir Tom Hunter has claimed that a second Scottish independence referendum on the back of a UK vote to leave the European Union would not be a “slam-dunk for separation.”
  • US President Barack Obama prepares for his farewell UK visit – and is likely to reiterate his support for the country to remain within the EU.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Housing and Construction News

Housing and Construction News

It was a week of Holyrood manifesto launches with the Scottish Greens and Scottish Conservatives outlining their plans for governance. An overview of their housing policies are included within this report. The Liberal Democrats will publish their manifesto on Friday (15 April), with information included within next week’s report. Elsewhere, the Holyrood election cavalcade rolled on, with jobs and employment a key focus this week. The issues surrounding Edinburgh’s school closures also dominated the news this week with 17 schools closed due to safety concerns. More on these stories and more are included in this week’s report.

Housing and Construction News

The Scottish Government is accused of “washing its hands” on school safety

The news that up to 2,300 Edinburgh pupils were affected by school closures over building safety fears dominated housing stories this week. It took a political angle when the Conservatives claimed that the Scottish Government had “washed its hands” on school safety. The party claimed that the SNP three times refused their call for school inspectors to include building standards in their reports. Spokesperson Liz Smith claimed she had raised the issue almost two years ago, in June 2014. Her comments came after Edinburgh City Council were forced to close 17 schools in the capital after concerns arose about the standard of construction in the buildings, which were all built under the same public private partnership (PPP) contract. Education Secretary Angela Constance said that what had occurred was “deeply concerning”.

Scottish Green Party launch their manifesto – housing focus

The Scottish Greens were next up in the manifesto stakes on Tuesday and their pledges on housing centred on three main themes: building more homes to help create more jobs, increasing the amount of socially rented homes available to make the system fairer and ending fuel poverty (a key policy platform at every election they contest). It is worth bearing in mind that while they are unlikely to be forming the next Scottish Government, recent polls suggest the party could get 6-8 MSPs – potentially one in every region – so they are likely to be more vocal in the new Parliament. In terms of specific numbers, the Greens wish to see 12,000 homes built each year which would be made available for social renting. They would also give Scottish councils the power to buy land for housing at ‘existing use value’, where land is valued according to its current use rather than what it could be worth. Link: https://greens.scot/scotland-can

Scottish Conservatives publish their manifesto – housing focus

The Scottish Conservatives were next in line to issue their manifesto on Wednesday. One of what the party refers to as its key ‘areas of opposition’ would be building 100,000 new homes and rebuilding empty properties. ‘We will demand that the Scottish Government takes a grip and ensures that we see a real homebuilding revolution in the next five years,’ the manifesto noted. In greater detail, the party wants to see a 10% year-on-year increase in new house completions across all sectors to return to around 25,000 new homes being built every year by the end of the decade. In total, this would mean an additional 100,000 homes over the next five years. The party would expect around half of these to be affordable homes across different tenure types. Elsewhere, the party want to see the investment rate for housing associations protected and would work with them on the delivery of further homes. Link: http://www.scottishconservatives.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Scottish-Conservative-Manifesto_2016-DIGITAL.pdf

Elsewhere on the Holyrood Election Campaign

Scottish leaders start the week by publishing their tax returns

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, followed the leaders of Scotland’s other political parties after they published their tax returns on Monday. This followed renewed calls for transparency over politicians’ personal finances after the Panama Papers tax leak. Scottish Labour’s Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives issued theirs over the weekend.

Scotland’s political leaders outline their policies on employment

Willie Rennie underlined his party’s commitment to vocational training during a visit to Edinburgh. During the visit, Mr Rennie said: “We know that formal education is not for everyone and we need to do more to ensure that everyone has the chance to learn in the way that works best for them.” Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon said the creation of jobs in Scotland was “vital to all of our other ambitions”. Her comments on a trip to a business based in Glasgow claimed well paid jobs would boost the economy, in turn benefitting public services. Labour too outlined their plans. Party public services and wealth creation spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, claimed her party would set out an anti-austerity pledge which would raise billions more than the SNP.

New poll by The Times suggests the SNP lead

A YouGov poll published in Tuesday’s Times found the SNP had a 29-point lead over Labour in constituency voting intentions.  The poll gives the SNP half of the constituency vote and 45 per cent in the regional list – the widest SNP regional lead recorded by YouGov.  Meanwhile Labour and the Conservatives recorded 21 per cent and 18 per cent respectively in the constituency vote, with Labour only one point ahead on the list.

Ruth Davidson would make a better opposition leader than Kezia Dugdale, a YouGov poll finds

The same YouGov poll found that Scottish voters think Ruth Davidson would make a better leader of the opposition at Holyrood than Labour’s Kezia Dugdale. 32% felt she would be better at holding the SNP Government to account, compared with 13% for her Labour counterpart.

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • Former defence secretary Liam Fox demands both sides of the EU referendum debate should be reflected in the government’s £9.3m campaign leaflets
  • Former foreign secretary David Miliband joins the EU referendum debate to make people aware of the disadvantages of leaving the EU
  • The EEF publishes a new report looking at the importance of the EU to UK manufacturing

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Housing and Construction News

Housing and Construction News

This week’s housing and construction news centred on a deal signed last month by the Scottish Government and a Chinese construction giant which led to some significant column inches – though not the kind the SNP would have liked. Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats issued a news release on Scotland’s homeless figures as the Scottish election campaign continued into its second week. Creative photocalls have appeared and in between visits to butchers, cafes, Knockhill Racing Circuit and a Borders zip-line, the main policy issue discussed was taxation. All this and more is included in this week’s report.

Housing and Construction News

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signs multi-million pound deal with a firm owned by a Chinese construction giant. . . in March

On the 21 March 2016, just 48 hours prior to Holyrood’s dissolution, a deal was signed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and representatives of SinoFortone and China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group. However, the deal was not announced by the Scottish Government, leading opposition parties to question why the investment – expected to be around £10bn – was ‘hidden’ from the public. The Herald reported that China Railway Group Limited (CRG) had been guilty of paying huge bribes to government officials in China, adding further fuel to the fire. The memorandum of understanding stated that its purpose was to set out the “basis and general principles for initial discussions” on how SinoFortone and CR3 can “develop and fund major infrastructure projects in Scotland.” Opposition parties were quick to jump on the news. Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP pat themselves on the back for things they aren’t even involved in, so for Nicola Sturgeon to keep quiet about a deal she signed potentially worth £10bn with a Chinese consortium is quite extraordinary.”

Temporary accommodation not the solution to Scotland’s housing crisis, claim Liberal Democrats

Commenting on new figures revealing a 13% increase in homeless children living in temporary accommodation as of 31 December 2015, Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Jim Hume said: “Temporary accommodation provides an important safety net for children and families who would otherwise be on the streets but it is not a long term solution to Scotland’s housing crisis.”

UKIP Scotland launch manifesto – housing analysis

UKIP Scotland launched its manifesto on Thursday in Edinburgh. Its housing focus would see the party set a target of 50,000 social and affordable homes to be built over the course of the next parliament. The party would also identify all Brown Field sites across Scotland which would then attract development support up to £10,000 per unit. The manifesto also stated they would identify dormant land owned by local and central government so it can be released for affordable developments.

Holyrood Election Campaign

Nicola Sturgeon campaigns in Orkney and Shetland

In a visit to the Orkney and Shetland Islands this week, Nicola Sturgeon highlighted what she claimed was her party’s “record of delivery” for Scottish islands. During the trip, The SNP leader said: “Our island communities are part of the fabric of Scotland, and after years of neglect by the previous Labour/Lib Dem Executive, the SNP Government has done everything we can to support them.” The Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland are traditionally Liberal Democrat held constituencies, with the SNP looking to win both in May as part of their expected increase in constituency seats

The Scottish Liberal Democrats go green

In a visit to Peebles, Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats outlined the challenges facing Scotland’s targets of meeting green emissions. Mr Rennie claimed the Conservatives in Westminster are “slashing green budgets” and the SNP are “taking their marching orders from airlines on an Air Passenger Duty cut that would mean big increases in emissions”.

Scottish Labour outlines tax plans

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale focused on her party’s plans to increase income tax for those earning more than £150,000 from 45p to 50p, as noted in last week’s report. In a visit to an Edinburgh café, Ms Dugdale said her plans were “fair, reasonable and the only way to stop cuts to our public services.” However, the SNP were quick to respond – as other parties were when it launched its tax plans. An SNP spokesman said: “Labour’s tax plans at this election involve hitting the lowest paid and making them carry the burden of Tory austerity, which is deeply unfair.” Later on the week, Ms Dugdale faced questions over an offer to the SNP to work for them as a researcher while studying at her final year at university.  The Green Party also focused on taxation this week. Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said that he was confident his party’s plans to introduce a 60p top rate of income tax for Scotland’s highest earners would raise additional revenue.

Scottish Conservatives focus on skills

Following similar announcements last week, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson laid out her party’s plans to fund more apprenticeships, reverse college cuts and create ten new skills academies across Scotland. In a speech in Glasgow, she said: “Under our plan, we will reverse the cuts to further education colleges imposed by the SNP government. That’s £60 million of extra investment every year.”

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • Daily Telegraph poll shows 49 per cent of people want to remain in the EU, with 48 seeking to leave
  • Figures from Deloitte find large British firms are delaying deals and hiring decisions until after the EU referendum
  • Tom Harris, ex Glasgow MP and director of the Scottish Vote Leave campaign, claimed this week that leaving the EU would lead to more powers for Scotland

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

 

Housing and Construction News

Housing and Construction News

The first full week of the Scottish Parliament election campaign trail is drawing to a close, with Scotland’s political leaders travelling the length and breadth of the country in what has been a busy week of promise and counter-promise. As such, this report (and the next few) will focus on wider issues associated with each party’s campaign to win over voters in time for May’s election. In between political announcements, this week saw the second live televised debate, on STV, following last week’s debate on BBC Scotland. Skills, education, taxation and property were all discussed this week, as we await the full manifesto launch of all the Scottish parties throughout April. An overview of some of the main stories of the week are included in this report.

Housing and Construction News

SNP outline home building plan

On Wednesday, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon set out her party’s plans to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes in Scotland to boost housing, the economy and support thousands of jobs. In a news release released this week, it was claimed a re-elected SNP Government would build at least 50,000 affordable homes in the next Parliament, which would support 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs per year and generate £1.8bn per year of economic activity.

The Green Party announces its property and tax proposals

The Scottish Green Party published proposals this week for what it called “fairer funding for public services”, which would see Council Tax replaced with a progressive property tax. In a news release obtained by the party this week, it was claimed the Greens’ proposals followed recommendations from poverty advisors, Scottish Government tax experts, the OECD and the cross-party Commission on Local Tax Reform. The Greens claimed that switching to this system would raise, at the very least, an additional £331million to invest in public services, compared to the SNP’s proposals for income tax as outlined in previous reports.

Holyrood Election Campaign

Closing Scotland’s skills gap kick-starts the Holyrood election trail

The week began with First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, claiming the SNP would put Scotland’s youngsters at the “cutting edge” of the economy by creating thousands more apprenticeships in high-skill industries such as technology and engineering. In a visit to Dalzell Steelwork in Motherwell, she said: “Giving our young people the skills they need to be at the cutting edge of our economy and our jobs market is vital for their future and for the future of our economy.” Her comments on Monday followed a previous announcement by the First Minister where it was claimed the SNP would increase the number of apprenticeship training places from 25,000 a year to 30,000 a year by 2020 if the party was re-elected. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats visited Inverurie to outline how his party would address the skills gap. Mr Rennie used evidence from a report published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills which stated that a number of Scottish employers struggled to recruit candidates with the skills required to do the job. Education sits at the heart of his party’s election campaign, with significant investment in Scotland’s college system one of the party’s priorities if elected.

School election pack gets the SNP in hot water

The SNP’s launch of a campaign pack targeting young Scots standing in school mock elections drew criticism this week. Scottish Labour spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: “This campaign pack crosses the line far too far. It’s supposed to be about a school mock election but is basically a training pack about how to be an activist for the SNP.” Scottish Conservative parliamentary candidate Alex Johnstone said: “This is a blatant attempt by the SNP to brainwash kids into voting for them. If any other party did this, they’d be jumping up and down and making all kinds of complaints.”

The SNP announce Jobs Grant to help young people back into work

Tuesday saw the SNP announce plans to introduce a Jobs Grant for young people aged 16-24 who have been out of work for six months and are starting a job for more than 16 hours a week. The Jobs Grant, which the SNP claim could support around 6,000 young people each year, forms part of SNP plans to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.

Labour and Conservatives focus on education

Following on from Willie Rennie’s comments earlier in the week, Labour and the Conservatives also came out fighting on the education front. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale claimed the SNP had led to a fall in probationer teachers, stating: “Nicola Sturgeon claims that education is the defining priority of her government, but reality of her record just does not reflect that. Labour will ask those earning more than £150,000 a year to pay a bit more in tax so we can stop the cuts and invest in our schools.” Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Conservatives focused on early year education. “The SNP has singularly failed to make any progress on narrowing the attainment gap, despite having sole control over education for almost a decade,” she said.

Second leaders’ TV debate take place

Scotland’s political leaders faced their second live panel debate in the space of seven days this week. The five party leaders took questions on education, tax and Scottish independence, among others. Nicola Sturgeon was quizzed on what the SNP manifesto would say on the issue, arguing it would be wrong to rule out another referendum and that the decision would be put “in the hands of the people”.

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • The Vote Leave campaign group publishes a list of 250 business leaders who it says support Britain leaving the EU – then is forced to apologise after wrongly including the names of two business leaders among the signatories to a letter backing exit from the EU
  • France warns that if the UK leaves the EU, ex-pats living there would no longer be able to access public healthcare
  • The former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell warns Britain would be unable to negotiate its exit from the EU within the two years allowed by European Union rules
  • Alistair Darling warns mortgages would rise if the UK were to exit the EU

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Housing and Construction News

Housing and Construction News

The first full week of the Scottish Parliament election campaign trail is drawing to a close, with Scotland’s political leaders travelling the length and breadth of the country in what has been a busy week of promise and counter-promise. As such, this report (and the next few) will focus on wider issues associated with each party’s campaign to win over voters in time for May’s election. In between political announcements, this week saw the second live televised debate, on STV, following last week’s debate on BBC Scotland. Skills, education, taxation and property were all discussed this week, as we await the full manifesto launch of all the Scottish parties throughout April. An overview of some of the main stories of the week are included in this report. 

Housing and Construction News

SNP outline home building plan 

On Wednesday, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon set out her party’s plans to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes in Scotland to boost housing, the economy and support thousands of jobs. In a news release released this week, it was claimed a re-elected SNP Government would build at least 50,000 affordable homes in the next Parliament, which would support 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs per year and generate £1.8bn per year of economic activity.

The Green Party announces its property and tax proposals 

The Scottish Green Party published proposals this week for what it called “fairer funding for public services”, which would see Council Tax replaced with a progressive property tax. In a news release obtained by the party this week, it was claimed the Greens’ proposals followed recommendations from poverty advisors, Scottish Government tax experts, the OECD and the cross-party Commission on Local Tax Reform. The Greens claimed that switching to this system would raise, at the very least, an additional £331million to invest in public services, compared to the SNP’s proposals for income tax as outlined in previous reports.

Holyrood Election Campaign 

Closing Scotland’s skills gap kick-starts the Holyrood election trail 

The week began with First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, claiming the SNP would put Scotland’s youngsters at the “cutting edge” of the economy by creating thousands more apprenticeships in high-skill industries such as technology and engineering. In a visit to Dalzell Steelwork in Motherwell, she said: “Giving our young people the skills they need to be at the cutting edge of our economy and our jobs market is vital for their future and for the future of our economy.” Her comments on Monday followed a previous announcement by the First Minister where it was claimed the SNP would increase the number of apprenticeship training places from 25,000 a year to 30,000 a year by 2020 if the party was re-elected. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats visited Inverurie to outline how his party would address the skills gap. Mr Rennie used evidence from a report published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills which stated that a number of Scottish employers struggled to recruit candidates with the skills required to do the job. Education sits at the heart of his party’s election campaign, with significant investment in Scotland’s college system one of the party’s priorities if elected.

School election pack gets the SNP in hot water

The SNP’s launch of a campaign pack targeting young Scots standing in school mock elections drew criticism this week. Scottish Labour spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: “This campaign pack crosses the line far too far. It’s supposed to be about a school mock election but is basically a training pack about how to be an activist for the SNP.” Scottish Conservative parliamentary candidate Alex Johnstone said: “This is a blatant attempt by the SNP to brainwash kids into voting for them. If any other party did this, they’d be jumping up and down and making all kinds of complaints.”

The SNP announce Jobs Grant to help young people back into work 

Tuesday saw the SNP announce plans to introduce a Jobs Grant for young people aged 16-24 who have been out of work for six months and are starting a job for more than 16 hours a week. The Jobs Grant, which the SNP claim could support around 6,000 young people each year, forms part of SNP plans to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.

Labour and Conservatives focus on education 

Following on from Willie Rennie’s comments earlier in the week, Labour and the Conservatives also came out fighting on the education front. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale claimed the SNP had led to a fall in probationer teachers, stating: “Nicola Sturgeon claims that education is the defining priority of her government, but reality of her record just does not reflect that. Labour will ask those earning more than £150,000 a year to pay a bit more in tax so we can stop the cuts and invest in our schools.” Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Conservatives focused on early year education. “The SNP has singularly failed to make any progress on narrowing the attainment gap, despite having sole control over education for almost a decade,” she said.

Second leaders’ TV debate take place 

Scotland’s political leaders faced their second live panel debate in the space of seven days this week. The five party leaders took questions on education, tax and Scottish independence, among others. Nicola Sturgeon was quizzed on what the SNP manifesto would say on the issue, arguing it would be wrong to rule out another referendum and that the decision would be put “in the hands of the people”.

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • The Vote Leave campaign group publishes a list of 250 business leaders who it says support Britain leaving the EU – then is forced to apologise after wrongly including the names of two business leaders among the signatories to a letter backing exit from the EU
  • France warns that if the UK leaves the EU, ex-pats living there would no longer be able to access public healthcare
  • The former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell warns Britain would be unable to negotiate its exit from the EU within the two years allowed by European Union rules
  • Alistair Darling warns mortgages would rise if the UK were to exit the EU

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

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