The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2021-22 (PfG) not only sets out its legislative and policy plans for the next 12 months, but also sets the tone for the next five years.
By examining the events surrounding the publication of the PfG, as well as the document itself, we can learn a lot about the politics of this Parliament and identify potential influencing opportunities.
In its analysis, L1 has focussed the following policy areas:
- Waste Management
If you would like further insight on any of these areas, or in an area not addressed in this document, please contact Suzi Martin.
Fill out the below to read our analysis.
Next week the Scottish Government will publish its first Programme for Government of the 2021-2026 parliamentary term. Not only will it set out the Government’s legislative and policy plans for the next 12 months, but it will also set the tone for the next five years. So, what can businesses expect from the Programme for Government 2021-22?
First and foremost, we can expect a continued focus on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The First Minister was at pains during the election campaign to convince voters that she would prioritise pandemic recovery over a Scottish independence referendum, so this will undoubtedly be front and centre.
For business and industry there is unlikely to be anything groundbreaking on this front, as rates relief for many sectors has already been extended. The SNP manifesto did commit to a new Retail Strategy to bring confidence back to the sector, which has been hit hard by both the pandemic and Brexit. However, a number of Bills and strategies were already delayed before the election, so this could affect the number of new strategies we see in this Programme for Government.
Close behind pandemic recovery is Net Zero. With COP26 just around the corner and a new co-operation agreement with the Scottish Greens, we can expect a laser sharp focus from the Scottish Government on what it needs to do to achieve Net Zero by 2045. The Scottish Government delayed a number of key policies that will support the drive to Net Zero, giving the Opposition cause for criticism. As such, the Programme for Government will seek to refocus efforts on this issue.
One such example is the Circular Economy Bill, which was delayed because of the pandemic. This Bill has seen a resurgence in interest from MSPs since the election, driven by the Opposition which is highly critical of the Government’s approach to the waste hierarchy. To take the heat out the Opposition’s arguments, it is likely that this year’s Programme for Government will commit to bringing forward the Bill sooner rather than later.
Other net zero related policy issues which we can expect to feature are low carbon heating and renewable energy. The Scottish Government will want to finalise its draft Heat in Buildings Strategy this year so it can begin the enormous task of decarbonising domestic heating, a process which must involve housing developers. Scotland’s Fourth National Planning Framework is also due to be published, which will give the Government scope to stretch its renewable energy targets.
Finally, the ‘Just Transition’ to a greener economy is unavoidable, not least because of the co-operation agreement with the Scottish Greens and the ongoing dispute over Cambo oil field. Understandably, stakeholders in the oil and gas sector are nervous about the Scottish Government’s Net Zero target and what it means for jobs. But with the Scottish Greens now holding influence, we can expect more robust action on this issue than may otherwise have been the case.
If you are interested in receiving more information and analysis on what to expect in the Programme for Government, please contact us here.
Developing sound policy means talking to a lot of different people with differing views. But even to a policy geek like myself, three consultations on the same issue in the space of three years seems excessive. Yet the Scottish Government has indeed launched a third consultation on the issue of short-term lets licensing, just over two years after its first consultation in April 2019.
Without a doubt the rapid increase in short-term lets has put pressure on certain communities in Scotland. These pressures can range from increased property prices and rental costs, to the loss of a sense of community.
But these perceived negatives have to be weighed against the positives. Before the outbreak of Covid-19, Scotland’s tourism industry was generating around £11 billion of economic activity per year. Yes, short-term lets represent only one aspect of the sector, but it is a rapidly growing area.
Research commissioned by Airbnb indicates that activity on its platform alone contributed around £677 million to the Scottish economy in 2019. Between 2016 and 2019 there was a three-fold increase in the number of Airbnb listings in Scotland. Yet, despite their growing number, there is very little regulation of such properties.
The problem the Scottish Government has with introducing regulation is that there is no agreed definition of short-term letting. This ambiguity led to bed and breakfast accommodation, serviced aparthotels and others being swept up into a ‘one size fits all’ approach when former Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP laid the 2020 Licensing Order in December last year.
Unsurprisingly, the legislation was withdrawn less than two months later, as opposition parties and businesses protested the broad–brush nature of the proposed licensing system, as well as its timing. Businesses and individuals have endured significant financial losses because of the pandemic. There are concerns in the sector that an onerous licensing process for those who provide short-term lets will seriously hamper its ability to recover.
However, the withdrawal of the legislation and subsequent working group has not resulted in the more nuanced approach many had hoped for. In fact, very little has changed: some serviced accommodation providers are still included in the proposals, and the deadlines for providers have not changed, despite the ongoing uncertainty around travel restrictions. It seems this third consultation is the tourism sector’s last opportunity to have its voice heard.
If your business will be affected by the introduction of a national licensing scheme for short-term lets, L1 is well–placed to support you in responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation, which is open until 13th August 2021. Please contact us here.