What will be in the Scottish Budget?

What will be in the Scottish Budget?

February 6, 2020

The Scottish Government will announce their Budget in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.  The process has first been delayed by the UK General election in December and the Budget Bill itself will now have to go through a truncated parliamentary process at Holyrood to ensure Councils know their budgets in time for the new financial year.  But what is going to be in the Scottish Budget?  Here are a few things that the Orbit team think we might see announced:

  • There have been calls additional funding in mental health, particularly for children and young people.  Mental health has been a priority for all parties so the Scottish Government could see additional focus here as a priority.
  • We know that the Scottish Government have been given indicative budget figures from the UK Government to allow them to make some announcements today.  If the Prime Minister sticks to his election pledges that is likely to see significant increases in capital spending at UK level, with Barnett consequentials for the Scottish Government.  So we could see commitments from the Finance Minister to examine major capital spending in Scotland as well, possibly including extending the Borders Railway or dualling of trunk roads.
  • With recent public fights with the UK Government over COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November, the Scottish Government will want to bolster its credentials for taking radical action to tackle the climate emergency.  In the run-up to the Budget, the Scottish Government has said we should expect the environment to be at the forefront of announcements.  This could include additional measures around the Scottish Investment Bank which has been setup specifically look at green investments.
  • Despite an increase in capital spending that might be expected from the UK Government, revenue budgets are still felt to be stretched and over-committed in many areas.  We can expect areas such as health and education to see increases or maintenance in funding but in the detail of the budget documents, expect to see freezes or even cuts in other areas.
  • Because of the delays in the budget and ongoing political issues around Brexit and a possible second Scottish independence referendum, we can expect any reductions or uncertaintities to be blamed on the UK Government as well as announcements which seek to protect certain Scottish industries against the possibility of no trade deal being agreed with the EU by the required deadline of December 2020.

The Scottish Greens and Conservatives have both outlined what they will need in order to support the Scottish Government’s Budget through Holyrood.  It is certain that the many of the Conservative suggestions will be ignored or even ridiculed.  The Scottish Greens will likely see a number of their proposals adopted in some form to ensure their support.


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