Scottish Budget 2024 to 2025: equality and fairer Scotland statement

Assesses where the Scottish Government is proposing to spend public money and how it aims to reduce inequality. It is a supporting document to the Scottish Budget and should be read alongside associated Budget publications.

Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands

Budget Purpose

To improve the opportunities for Scotland’s rural and coastal areas, and island communities. Supporting food security and production in Scotland, whilst tackling both biodiversity loss and climate change.

Primary national outcomes:

  • Environment
  • Communities
  • Economy
  • Fair Work and Business

Key human rights:

  • Right to protection of property
  • Right to an adequate standard of living, including:
  • Right to adequate housing
  • Right to adequate food
  • Right to protection against poverty and social exclusion
  • Right to take part in cultural life
  • Right to a healthy environment, including right to benefit from healthy ecosystems that sustain human wellbeing; the rights of access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice

Summary of how our budget impacts on equality and Fairer Scotland

The budget is aimed at supporting Rural and Island communities and also food security and production. Its spending is largely through sector-specific support for agriculture, forestry and fisheries. There is extensive on-going reform on the agricultural programme, which should help address both equalities issues and help tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, notably through the current Agriculture (Scotland) Bill.

This budget funds activities in Scotland’s most fragile rural, coastal, and island communities. It has a direct and critical role in supporting them to thrive, and in preventing depopulation by encouraging and supporting people to continue to live and work on the land and at sea. This includes supporting young people to stay in rural and island communities, to gain skills and employment in rural industries.

This investment may also help build community resilience by supporting businesses in key sectors which in turn helps to sustain local suppliers and manufacturers, especially food production, seafood and forestry.

The ‘Less Favoured Area Support Scheme’ (LFASS) in particular is available only in Scotland and seeks to keep people living and working in rural areas on farms and crofts with some of the lowest incomes in Scotland. Marine funding helps to support businesses and individuals in some of our most fragile coastal communities, including new entrants to fishing.

The ‘Land Matching Service’ works to link up young or new entrant farmers with land. This may help reduce age-related inequality within the sector, and also provide opportunities for older farmers to partner with younger people to set up joint ventures where they have no designated successor.

The Scottish Government is also developing a gender strategy for agriculture, and continues to fund the women in agriculture programme, to improve opportunities for women working in the sector and support training opportunities. This is important as most farms are still owned and managed by men.

The climate change focused spending, particularly on peatlands and forestry, will help both with CO2 mitigation and adaptation. This should help people with low incomes and/or with protected characteristics, particularly who live on Scotland’s islands, who are disproportionately likely to suffer the negative consequences from climate change.



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