9 SEP 2021
Among the high-level calls to prioritise the post-COVID recovery and work towards an independence referendum by the end of 2023, the Programme reiterates a number of policies relevant to RICS members that have been widely socialised through the cooperation agreement and prior manifestos.
Of the immediate Bills to be introduced over the coming 12 months, the Non-Domestic Rates COVID-19 Appeals Bill is most pertinent. But over the coming Parliamentary term, there is an ambitious policy agenda which touches on various aspects of the surveying profession. This includes the development of a Construction Recovery Plan, ambitious home building targets, funding programmes for home energy efficiency improvements, a land reform agenda, the planned modernisation of compulsory purchase, and – following the Green Party agreement – the ambition to introduce rent controls by the end of the Parliament.
The Shared Programme between the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party, entitled Working together to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland falls just short of a full formal coalition but looks and acts like one in many ways, with two Green MSPs – Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater – becoming junior ministers.
As expected, the document sets out a progressive policy agenda, touching on various areas relevant to RICS and the membership. Also, as would be expected in such an agreement between these two parties, there is a clear focus on addressing social and environmental issues across various sectors of the economy. The key question is whether policy implementation can match policy ambition.
RICS is well plugged in at official level to help shape and influence policy decisions, focusing on our key sectors and themes of sustainability, data and technology, and diversity and inclusion. We have held frequent meetings and occupy a number of working groups across housing, cladding, energy efficiency, construction, planning, land reform, tenement maintenance, and community wealth building, including alongside ministers such as Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Shona Robison MSP. We have also bolstered our engagement at a political level across all parties, meeting influential backbenchers such as Fiona Hyslop MSP (SNP), Liam Kerr MSP (Con), and Daniel Johnson MSP (Lab), as well as various others. We look forward to carrying this work forward as Parliament returns.
Please get in touch with email@example.com if you are interested in becoming more involved with RICS’ public affairs and thought leadership work.
Despite the agreement committing to hold a referendum on Scottish independence within the next five years, and preferably by the end of 2023 as set out in the Programme for Government, it does little to shift the politics of the situation. There was already a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, and the Green Party would have supported any attempt by the SNP administration to progress its plans for a referendum.
The real sticking points to holding a second referendum were always external. Firstly, the Prime Minister remains resolutely opposed to permitting the Section 30 order required to hold an official referendum, and the SNP’s failure to secure an outright majority in May bolstered this position. Secondly, and more importantly, is the inability of the pro-independence campaign to shift voter intention polling above 50% in support of independence. Indeed, the majority of polls held since mid-April has seen the pro-UK side ahead, marking a significant change from the latter half of 2020.