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BEFS respond to potential budget cuts in Scotland

The Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) has called on Scottish Ministers for early guidance and transparency over the Scottish Governments proposals for dealing with the expected cut of £1bn from the block grant of £34bn.

This follows recent announcements in England that both English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment are both clearly in the firing line for significant cuts.

The equivalent organisations in Scotland are Historic Scotland - who in turn fund many BEFS member organisations who manage, conserve and protect our built heritage - and Architecture & Design Scotland (A+DS).

Robin Burley, Chair of BEFS said

“Certainly there are not many scenarios to consider from a public expenditure point of view other than a reduction in budgets, but there are options for the Scottish Government to consider on how it will spread the pain of the anticipated £3.7bn cut from the block grant over the next 3 years.”

“We are concerned that there may be too much emphasis on ring fencing the budgets and therefore impact on particular areas such as the built environment could be particularly damaging”

“Following the release of the Independent Budget Review (Beveridge report) , we welcome the Finance Secretary, John Swinney’s statement, issued yesterday, that he will take forward dialogue with stakeholders in advance of the budget process, but feel that we are being backed into a corner to make short-sighted disproportionate cuts from which the sector may never recover. This would have an adverse affect on Scotland’s economic recovery and unemployment levels.”

Craig Stirrat, Director of BEFS said

“We are concerned at the timing of the budget announcement, which is not expected until November after Westminster has completed a Comprehensive Spending Review in October. By then many members of BEFS will have already set their budgets for 2011/12. If cuts have to be made then organisations need time to work out the best way to implement them.”

It has been estimated that the historic built environment generates in excess of £2.3 billion to the Scottish economy each year and employs up to 60,000 full time workers.

In June, Ministers had written to the leaders of agencies or bodies that help deliver public services. The list includes local authorities, NHS Boards and non-departmental public bodies.

BEFS is holding a Congress on the 2 September 2010 in the Roxburghe Hotel Edinburgh, which will showcase many of the achievements of the built environment sector and the significant contribution which the sector contributes to Scotland’s place making agenda.

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