Last week Scotland’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP outlined Scotland’s draft budget for 2016/17. In our latest blog our Policy and Public Affairs Executive, James, looks at what the proposals could mean for transport over this coming Parliament.
The Draft Budget lays out a number of measures which will have an impact on transport and infrastructure development in Scotland.
In transport news specifically support for bus services is up to £52.4m from £50.7m. This is the budget from which the Bus Services Operators Grant is paid from so could potentially mean good news on this front. On the other hand, the bus concessionary fares budget will cut from £207.8m to £193.8m, this will be of particular interest to operators who run services under Section 22 services.
It was also announced that there will be a £4million uplift in the regional transport partnership funding from £16m to £20m. This comes at the same time as new funding to bring key infrastructure projects to completion is released, including funding to bring the Queensferry Crossing to completion.
Capital funding of around £450m will be released for affordable housing in 2017-18 while local authorities will have the ability to uplift council tax by up to 3%. This is married with other changes to local authority funding which the Government have claimed will leads to an increase of £240million to local authority funding. The new funding settlement has led to opposition parties suggest this amounts to a £327million cut in funding.
Community Transport and the Budget
As the budget takes effect we will be seeking to clarify the settlement facing local authorities. Local authorities have suggested that they will face a real term spending cut of nearly £350m, whilst the Government have suggested that local authorities will be able to collectively raise £240m if they all raise council tax by 3%, as well as benefit from a number of other new initiatives. Clearly local authority finance is intimately linked to funding to community transport operators. As ever, we will seek to ensure community transport is properly funded so it can continue to provide inclusive and accessible journeys throughout Scotland.
The Budget will also have an impact on what Scotland’s National Transport Strategy can deliver. As we formulate our ideas on the strategy we would love to hear your thoughts on what inclusive and accessible transport in Scotland should look like.
You can share your thoughts at James@ctauk.org