Salmond Praises Social Housing Push

The £1 billion spent by the Scottish Government on social housing in recent years is good for "our economy and good for our society'', the First Minister will claim.

Alex Salmond will highlight the investment his Government has made in the sector as the Scottish cabinet travels to Selkirk to take part in the latest question-and-answer session with the public.

The SNP leader will confirm today that spending since 2011 has now reached £1 billion, with this expected to have risen to £1.7 billion by the end of this Holyrood term in 2016.

But he will claim Westminster gets the benefit of savings resulting from lower housing benefits costs in Scotland as he calls for greater economic powers to be handed to Scotland.

The First Minister will say: "Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, more prosperous per head than France, Japan and the UK itself - but we need the economic powers that come with independence to make the most of our huge resources.

"That means being in control of our own finances rather than having them in the grip of Westminster.

"For example, since 2011, this Government has spent £1 billion on social housing. By the end of the parliament, in 2016, we'll have spent £1.7 billion.

"Rental costs are lower in Scotland because there's a better supply of housing. It's an investment which is good for our economy and good for our society.

"If housing rents are lower, the Government has to pay out less housing benefit.

"At the moment, the Scottish Government pays for our 30,000 affordable homes during this parliament. But the benefit - lower housing benefit costs - flows to the UK Government.

"So, at the moment, we invest in policies, but the savings go to Westminster.''

Mr Salmond is expected to add: "There is a similar issue with childcare. One of our most important ambitions is a transformation in childcare in Scotland.

"We believe, that if we put childcare provision on the same level as primary school provision, it will encourage many more women into the economy - helping their families, helping the economy and making use of their talents and abilities.

"But again - the increased tax revenues are retained by George Osborne, meaning that the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament are holding Scotland back from investing in even more childcare provision.

"Retaining those taxes in Scotland makes childcare affordable and sustainable.

"We create a better and fairer future if we work hard and use our resources sustainably and well - but only independence can allow us to ensure we are not just a wealthy country but a prosperous, just and fair society.''


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