The Scottish Government’s new agenda for government does not provide enough action to foster rural economic growth, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) has warned.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her government’s future plans on Tuesday 6 September, with a particular focus on tackling the cost of living crisis.
She announced a series of measures including a rent freeze for social and private tenants, an increase in Scottish Child Payment and an extension of free school meals.
But SLE, Scotland’s rural business organization, has warned that the rural sector has been “neglected” in the government’s new agenda.
The body said the omission of a new farm bill would add to the uncertainty facing farmers and land-based businesses.
Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of SLE, said: “Very few of the measures proposed would help the rural economy and communities thrive.
“While there have been mentions of growth, future actions under the program appear to offer little to advance the much-discussed post-Covid economic recovery.”
The rent freeze announced by the government is likely to aggravate existing structural and supply problems with the private rental sector, she said, and could impact required investment in energy efficiency measures .
“Rural housing estates provide a huge supply of affordable housing, often significantly outstripping the supply from councils and housing associations,” Ms Laing added.
“The ban on evictions also appears to be a disproportionate response given that it already requires the approval of a court that takes full account of the personal circumstances of tenants.”
Farms were also facing a period of uncertainty, with Ms Laing saying omitting a new Farm Bill from the agenda would mean they would have less time to prepare for new state support rules , which are expected to come into force by 2025.