All Things Scotland – New housing and planning updates

Just because the Edinburgh fringe festival is going firework free this year, doesn’t mean there aren’t any sparks in Scottish local government. From promises of a new deal for local government as well as an array of new funding and consultations, catch up on all the latest news and developments right here in All Things Scotland. 

Check out the latest updates from LGIU Scotland that you may have missed:

Invisible danger: an economic rationale for clean air in public buildings

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

The topic of indoor air quality is going to become more pertinent in the future as decarbonisation of transport and industry continues to lower outdoor exposure, whilst higher energy efficiency homes and buildings increase the risk of indoor exposure to pollutants and in certain circumstances, nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

This briefing will highlight key issues and the potential role of local government going forward.

Social Prescribing Show 2023: Key themes

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

Recently, the National Academy for Social Prescribing held its annual Social Prescribing Show. This briefing summarises some of the key messages and takeaways from a selection of panel discussions, looking at the current social prescribing landscape and how it can continue to develop in the future.

Green spaces and mental health – a personal perspective from Finland

Open to everyone 🟢 

The importance of green spaces – and blue spaces – for our mental health has become ever more pronounced in the last few years. Check out this new blog post which accompanies our Global Local on community sports and mental health.

Key local government takeaways from the First Ministers Statement

Breaking down the 17 local government mentions in the new “Fresh Start” document outlining Scottish Governments priorities, we took a look at each of the 3 “Missions” to breakdown possible implications for local government.

Mission 1 – Tackle poverty

  • Expand free school meals
  • Action plan for rural and island communities with £25 million to allow properties be purchased or leased for key workers.
  • An anti-poverty summit.
  • To do this, the First Minister alluded to the need for “targeted spending” which local government will already be well-versed in.

Mission 2- Support economic growth

  • Supporting a just transition included a mention of working regionally and locally with partners in the North East to ensure no one is “left behind”.
  • New tech scaler hubs to support innovation.
  • A broader resetting of the government’s relationship with the business. On this, the First Minister announced the pausing of the controversial Deposit Return Scheme till May 2024.

Mission 3- Delivery of key public services

  • NHS investment,
  • Timetable for £12 an hour for adult social care workers. Additional or direct funding for local government?
  • “Improving consistency of care” through the National Care Service in a way that commands consensus amongst our key partners. Is command and consensus an oxymoron?
  • Public transport, the 6-month pilot to remove peak-time fares from Scotrail services will start in October of this year. Questions remain about provision of ferries Rural and non-rail communities?
  • Increased investment for active travel? How much, and where? 
  • Double the charge point network for electric vehicles to at least 6,000, and increase the number of zero-emission buses on Scotland’s roads.
  • More discretionary funding for local government! The First Ministers termed local government as a “vital partner in delivering the services that all of us rely on” and subject to Parliamentary approval, Councils will give Councils the power to apply a local visitor levy on overnight stays. For more, check out our local government insights on this proposed tourism tax!
  • New consultation with COSLA on additional powers to increase the rate of Council Tax on second and empty homes and on altering the thresholds for a self-catering accommodation to qualify for non-domestic rates.
  • Public Service Reform – a ten-year programme of public bodies and public service reform that seeks to achieve effective and person-centred, fiscally sustainable public services.
  • Digitisation – modern digital services that are easy to access, reliable and effective
  • The desire for “effective joint working between Scottish Government and local government.”

The New Deal for local government?

One of the 3 new deals promised in “New leadership – A Fresh Start“, the long-awaited new deal for local government, is about “resetting our relationship with Local Government”. By 2026, tFirst Minister’s new deal with local government entails;

  • fiscal framework,
  • enabling better collaboration to jointly deliver our shared priorities,
  • tackle the collective challenge

And in case you missed it, First Minister Humza Yousaf made a point of meeting COSLA to reaffirm “the Scottish Government’s commitment to resetting the relationship with local authorities” and below are the key takeaways from that meeting:

  • Timing – Coming two days after the appointment to First Minister, local government and the relationship with COSLA hopefully indicates the First Ministers’ recognition of local government’s importance.
  • New title – Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, Joe FitzPatrick, with empowerment as the operative word which will embody the new deal with local government.
  • New deal – The New Deal will be jointly agreed with COSLA and will provide greater flexibility over local funding and clear accountability for delivering shared priorities.

Key reports and updates

Digital infrastructure is key to meeting future housing and care needs

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 


This briefing highlights the growing importance of digital technology in helping a wide range of people to remain independent in their own homes and to be served or supported in achieving independent living. It also demonstrates why new housing should embrace digital infrastructure and how this will help address the inaccessibility of most housing for disabled people.

Industrial action in local authorities – This week, Unison announced 87% of its local authority workers voted to reject a pay deal from COSLA, and that nine in 10 of those backed taking some form of action, including striking.

Expressing disappointment, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann said: “This strong offer clearly illustrates the value Councils place on their workforce, and it compares well to other sectors. It recognises the cost-of-living pressures on our workforce and critically, it seeks to protect jobs and services.”

New consultation on planning guidance – As part of NPF-4’s implementation, people are being asked for their views on how the planning system can support healthy, thriving and connected communities.

Affordable homes initiatives – Over five years, up to £25 million is being made available to help councils identify affordable homes for key workers in rural communities.

Scottish Household Survey 2021- In 2021, most (96%) people rated their neighbourhood as a good place to live, and around two thirds (64%) of households were managing well financially.

Extending Borders Rail – A £10m feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway could start this year according to BBC Scotland!

New festival funding – Fourteen major festivals in Edinburgh and Glasgow will receive a share of this year’s £1.8 million Expo Fund.

Finally, 0.2% on-shore GDP growth for Scotland in February as released by the Chief Statistician this week.

Advance your knowledge of Scottish local government!

All Things Scotland is only one of the many ways LGIU keeps the local government community in Scotland up-to-date on all the key policy developments. To never miss a beat, you need access to our exclusive resources and our full Daily News service – one email, every morning with everything you need:

  • breaking news;
  • briefings;
  • reports; training;
  • events;
  • and, so much more.

Only available to members – find out more about LGIU membership here.

Stay tuned....

In May, LGIU will bring you a wide range of briefings, essential reading for the month. Topics will include more detail on health and social care services as they operates right now, also an overview of deposit and return schemes running successfully in Europe, an in-depth review of how poverty affects children’s physical health, with part two in June looking at children’s mental health, both will include case studies. Finally, an overview of policy and strategy for green and free port policy and how LG is delivering healthy, resilient communities. As well as our policy and legislation round-up and bulletins.