Scottish Green Party manifesto: small in size; big on tax

Hew Edgar

Policy Manger (Scotland) (RICS)

The Scottish Green Party (SGP) has published a concise 15-page manifesto outlining key UK priorities with a focus on the greening of national policy, an alternate UK tax framework, and housing. Fielding just three candidates in Scotland, the SGP has concentrated its campaign target areas, and the same strategy appears to have been applied to their manifesto pledges.

Edinburgh, Scotland

The key pillars of the manifesto are the establishment of new tax regime in the UK, and a prioritisation of job creation in the renewables industry, energy efficiency, forestry and North Sea decommissioning. Indeed, the SGP believes it can create 200,000 jobs by 2035 in these sectors. This is roughly the same number of voters in the three target seas who can cast their ballot for the SGP in this election.

A Green New Deal will be mobilised to steer investment into the green industrialisation of delivery models for affordable homes, transport and energy; while the creation of a local bank network in every city and region will lend to low-carbon enterprise.

Other financial changes that will create a “new” economy include a financial transactions tax on speculation, a wealth tax on the wealthiest 1%, and continued support for a Land Value Tax.

Community-led approaches to housing

The SGP did not provide a target figure for housing new-build targets, but the party states it will support a community-led approach to building affordable homes. This is an interesting notion, but more detail on the mechanics is required to allow proper scrutiny.

Their proposed axing of buy-to-let tax breaks and the introduction of rent controls – as a means to gradually reduce housing costs - could have massive implications for the private rented sector (PRS).

Indeed, if these two pledges are taken forward, we could see a significant increase in the number of small-scale landlords leaving the sector, which would only serve to decrease supply of a housing option that is growing in importance.

Their pledge to reduce VAT on repairs, however, is very much needed, and welcomed.

Land Management

The SGP will direct funding to farming methods that promote sustainable management of soils, water, and the environment.

A good proposal that echoes our call for any future UK government to provide financial incentives for - and reward the provision of - ecosystem services, and to draw up outcome-led agri-environment measures, beyond 2020, that support land management activities which enhance the environment, reduce emissions and support rural businesses.

Brexit

The SGP is keen to retain the freedom of movement within the EU, allowing citizens to remain in the UK to live and work. Whilst they do not go into real detail on this pledge, we would hope they would support an emphasis on the migration of skilled construction workers to tackle the shortage.

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