Either see below Gil most recent written questions to Parliament or select a category.
To ask the Scottish Government how many (a) businesses and (b) people have submitted online planning applications via the ePlanning Scotland website in each year since 2009, broken down by local authority, and what the average saving was.
Answered by Alex Neil (25/03/2015):Anyone who registers on the portal can set their account as either a ‘professional’ or a ‘general public’ user. The reason for this initial distinction is to customise their experience. As regular users of the portal professionals benefit from additional functionality made available to them. The general public are assisted with easy to use forms and guidance. The Scottish Government does not however retain information on the breakdown of applications submitted through the ePlanning portal by types of user, whether they be professionals, businesses or the general public.
The average saving per applicant is based on several factors associated with producing a traditional paper based application. This includes savings to be made from costs associated with printing technical drawings, design statements, visualisations etc. as well as the packaging and postage costs. Other savings are generated by the efficiencies the portal provides, freeing up the applicants time to work on other activities. None of these savings have a bearing on which planning authority is processing the application or who the applicant is; an average is applied across all applications.
Gil Paterson (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP):
2. To ask the Scottish Government how it will deal with the impact of the so-called bedroom tax on housing associations. (S4O-01850)
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess): We have been working with a wide range of social landlords and other stakeholders since the United Kingdom Government announced its welfare reforms, to identify ways to lessen the impacts. We are investing in training and guidance for housing associations to help them deal with the bedroom tax and we will continue to support housing associations and tenants where we can.
We should not forget the impact on those who are most affected. The measure has an unfair impact on vulnerable Scottish households. Seventy-nine per cent of households that will be affected by the bedroom tax report an adult in the household with a disability.
I have written again to Lord Freud and Iain Duncan Smith to ask them to look at this again and abandon the bedroom tax part of the welfare reforms, as it continues to cause problems for the most vulnerable citizens in Scotland.
Gil Paterson: The minister is fully aware that the UK Government proposals are causing a great deal of confusion among tenants or councils and housing associations. Some people believe that the Scottish Government has the resources to stop the effects of the proposals in Scotland, despite the cuts that have been made to the Scottish budget. My question is straightforward: has the Scottish Government got the powers or resources to stop this happening in Scotland?
Margaret Burgess: The Government is doing what it can within its devolved powers to lessen the impact of the UK Government’s damaging welfare reforms. However, the member is right to point out that welfare budgets are reserved to Westminster and that the welfare reforms are not of our making. From our limited budget, we have already made up the shortfall in council tax benefit, added £9.2 million to the Scottish welfare fund and invested £5 million in advice services and we will continue to consider all reasonable ways of lessening the impact of reforms such as the bedroom tax on Scottish households and our economy.
As I have said, the member is correct: these reforms are not of our making and we are doing what we can to mitigate their impacts. However, the reality is that those impacts are becoming greater and greater; no sooner do we plug one hole than another one opens. Mr Paterson is absolutely right. With its devolved resources, the Scottish Government does not have the money to mitigate all the welfare reforms or the bedroom tax.
The only way we can get rid of the bedroom tax--
Margaret Burgess: Let me finish. The only way we can get rid of the bedroom tax is by trying—as I have done again this week—to persuade the UK Government to abandon it. It is recognised throughout the chamber that the tax is wrong and not fair in any way. The other alternative is to vote yes in the 2014 referendum so that we can take charge of the benefits system.
To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will indicate how much of the funding consequentials arising from the UK Budget 2009 it intends to allocate to housing in Scotland.
Answered by John Swinney (15/06/2009): As a result of the funding consequentials from the UK Budget, we are allocating an extra £31 million in 2009-10 to boost affordable housing supply in Scotland. This will include new funds to accelerate and sustain investment in new housing developments for affordable rent across the country, and also funding to kick-start and unblock private developments to help deliver homes for mid-market rent and for low cost ownership. We are maintaining flexibility in the precise allocation of the funding to ensure value for money for government and to maximise the opportunities to meet housing need and sustain jobs in the construction sector.
To ask the Scottish Executive whether it plans to consider a registration scheme for builders that would help identify bogus builders.
Answered by Fergus Ewing (11/12/2008): The identification of traders acting illegally is a matter for local authorities under consumer protection powers reserved to the UK Government. However, as part of its work to support local authorities in their implementation of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, the Scottish Government is exploring options for facilitating a trusted trader framework across Scotland. The aim of such a framework would be to ensure that homeowners needing to carry out work to their home had access to basic information on reliable traders, mainly through their local authority trading standards department.
To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any plans to monitor the long-term effects of PPP schemes on local authority finances.
Answered by John Swinney (15/05/2008): It is the responsibility of every public sector procuring body, when entering into a contract, to ensure all payments committed through that contract are affordable over the length of the contract. This applies to all contracts and not just PPP contracts.
Note: This page contains both questions laid by Gil as MSP for West of Scotland (2007-2011, title starts "S3W/O") and Clydebank & Milngavie (2011-present, title starts "S4W/O")