The economic challenges facing Galloway were laid bare by the news that house prices in the region have fallen by 3.2 per cent in the past year.
The drop in house prices across the whole of Dumfries and Galloway was revealed this week in new data from the Office for National Statistics. Galloway is unfortunately bucking the national trend which has seen house prices across Scotland rise by an average of 4.3 per cent.
Dumfries and Galloway experienced the second biggest fall in house prices across Scotland at 3.2 per cent, with Aberdeen experiencing an 8.7 per cent decrease over the year. These figures place Dumfries and Galloway as the third slowest growing areas in the UK for house prices.
South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “These figures simply highlight the economic challenges across Dumfries and Galloway. While the data doesn’t focus on the reasons for the decrease in prices, I believe these figures are another indication of the impact that Scottish Government cuts are having on the region. The council and NHS are the two largest employers locally so there is a heavy reliance on them for job opportunities, more so than many other parts of Scotland. They are having to make big cuts. As a result in the last couple of years alone, Dumfries and Galloway Council have been forced to axe 800 positions. It is little wonder that demand and the price of housing in the region is falling when local job opportunities are being reduced. I hope these figures serve as a stark warning to the Scottish Government that their approach to funding services in the region needs to change to ensure we don’t continue to be a forgotten area.”
Galloway’s Conservative MSP Finlay Carson commented: “These figures should shame the Scottish Government. Once again, we are presented with a set of statistics that demonstrate rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway are lagging behind; this time when it comes to house prices. For too long now, continued SNP centralisation has stifled investment in our region which has resulted in a lack of jobs being created and services being based elsewhere in Scotland. I am delighted at today’s news that a south of Scotland enterprise agency will be established – something I have been calling on the Government to do for a long time. This body has the potential to stimulate the local economy, boost job creation and support our existing businesses. In order that our region can reap the benefits from this new agency it needs to be properly funded, so today I have written to the Cabinet Secretary seeking assurances on this and requesting further information about its structure. We need to send a message that Dumfries and Galloway is open for business and as more people decide to move here, house prices should begin to rise”.
SNP MSP for the region Emma Harper added: “Colin Smyth admits the report doesn’t give reasons for the fall in house prices but then goes on to link it to Scottish Government budget decisions. Frankly that’s theorising well ahead of the evidence and is simply grasping at any opportunity to slate the Scottish Government, whatever the facts might turn out to be.
“The Scottish Government is taking action to address the unique factors which influence Dumfries & Galloway’s economy, such as the decline in our working age population and the need for better digital connectivity. Only this week the Scottish Government announced the creation of a South of Scotland enterprise body, which will focus on just those issues and help to make this region a competitive and attractive place to do business, and which ought to be welcomed across the political spectrum.
“Given Colin Smyth’s obvious interest in economics I’d actually hoped for better from him.”