I write in relation to the publication of the Scottish Parliament’s finance committee report on the draft budget 2013–14 (your report, 10 December).
It was heartening to see the committee heed the concerns of many housing professionals and call on the Scottish Government to consider earmarking “additional funding for affordable housing”.
It is my hope that the government formally invests a sizeable portion of the extra £394 million in infrastructure spend allocated in the Chancellor’s autumn statement towards meeting new affordable housing supply targets.
The Scottish Government has committed to building 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016. Meeting this objective in an era of austerity means housing associations and other home builders have increasingly had to do much more with significantly less.
Having additional funding is therefore extremely important if we are to meet ever-rising demand going forward.
Policymakers, housing associations and the public all recognise the economic importance of having a robust building programme of affordable homes.
While crucial to the overall health of Scotland’s economy, high quality, affordable housing, including much needed social housing, also impacts significantly on the health of our society by creating safe and strong communities.
A growing chorus of voices are recognising the importance of affordable housing to the well-being and success of our country. Let’s not miss this opportunity to invest in our future.
Port of Leith Housing Association
Your front page story (“SNP suffers defeat after MSPs reject call to back its budget”, 10 December) omits several key points from the finance committee’s deliberations.
The amendment praising the budget that was the focus of the article was only placed by the SNP to counter the original, unnecessary amendment proposed by Michael McMahon MSP, who wanted openly to criticise the budget in the committee’s budget report.
Both of these amendments, in my opinion, would have been to the detriment of the original budget report, and so I voted in both instances to retain the original report and against each amendment.
The budget report, so ably distilled into a concise document by the committee’s staff from the hours of expert evidence taken by the committee on the impact of the government’s proposed budget, is a fair and balanced analysis of the budget.
It recognises that there are a range of opinions on the strength of the budget, praising it where it deserves to be praised and offering constructive suggestions for change or further thought where the committee considered that would be useful.
Had the report been altered by either amendment, it would have been difficult for the whole committee to agree to support the report, which would have been incredibly damaging and only added to the partisan cloud hanging over Holyrood these days.
I’m delighted that the original report was wholeheartedly endorsed by the committee, and hope that this consensus can be built on in the New Year.
Jean Urquhart MSP
Highlands and Islands