Growing our strong investment in infrastructure during 2019 – Michael Matheson
Infrastructure investment is one of the four pillars of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy which is why in 2019-20 our capital programme will invest more than £5 billion across Scotland.
We know the value of investing in infrastructure goes beyond the physical homes, schools, hospitals we see as the projects begin to open. It unlocks economic potential, supports jobs and allows our businesses and communities to grow. And it plays a crucial role in connecting our people, businesses and communities. Research by the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank and the EU all draws the conclusion that infrastructure investment is a key driver of productivity growth.
Since 2007, the Scottish Government has completed around 200 projects worth £9.6 billion across schools, colleges, hospitals and vital transport infrastructure but we must build on that good work. The Scottish Government has pledged to increase capital investment by £1.56 billion per year, an additional 1% of current GDP, by the end of the next parliament compared to 2019-20 figures.
It is vital the right investments, that matter most to the people of Scotland, are made. For example, investments in transport and utilities provides the foundation for companies to invest and bring new economic opportunities across Scotland, while investing in low carbon and energy efficient infrastructure can reduce costs, support climate change adaptation and ensure we are equipped for the future.
Last week I announced that Ian Russell will lead the work of a new Infrastructure Commission to advise the National Infrastructure Mission. But in the short term, the work continues to serve the people of Scotland.
In 2019-20 we will invest £175 million in early learning and childcare facilities, advancing our commitment to provide £476 million capital funding to local authorities over 2017-18 to 2020-21 to support the expansion of early learning and childcare entitlement to 1,140 hours. The Scottish Government will invest to develop and maintain our Higher Education and Further Education estate, including up to £22.7 million to complete the construction of Forth Valley College’s new campus in Falkirk.
Our towns and cities are at the heart of economic growth which is why £187 million in funding is being provided for the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh and South East Scotland, Inverness and Highland, Stirling and Clackmannanshire and Tay Cities Region deals as well as a £50 million Town Centre Fund as part of a wider package of business support measures to drive local economic activity.
Increasing investment in housing is crucial so the Affordable Housing Supply Programme will receive £826 million to progress our commitment to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes by end March 2021, the majority of which will be for social rent.
Our health care professionals deserve the very best resources to help them carry out their vital work so the Scottish Government is progressing our £320 million commitment to construct five new NHS elective care centres in Clydebank, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and Livingston.
Investing in our digital infrastructure will help boost our competitiveness and connectivity. We are investing £25 million to improve access to 4G mobile connectivity, whilst looking to the future, we are developing a forward-looking 5G strategy for Scotland. We have exceeded our target of 95% fibre broadband coverage across Scotland and, building on that, this year, work will begin to provide access to superfast broadband to all homes and businesses in Scotland.
Scotland’s transportation links will also see large levels of investment. £1.7 billion will be spent on our transport infrastructure, including £93 million to take forward our commitment to dual the A9 and £207 million in our major rail electrification programme. We’ll make £20 million available to enable more people and businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles; add more than 500 new ultra low emission vehicles to public sector fleets; add over 100 green buses to the fleet through the £1.7 million Green Bus Fund and much more.
We recognise the importance of it to the economy, not only from the immediate short-term benefits of construction but also the longer-term economic impact of our investment in hospitals, schools, transport, infrastructure, digital connectivity and low carbon technology.