The Scottish government will on Thursday deliver its draft budget for 2022/23, promising ‘’another stepping stone towards a fairer, greener, more prosperous future’’ against a backdrop of a cut in its block grant from Westminster.
The core block grant – in effect Westminster returning some of our own money to the Scottish government – has been cut from last year.
The block grant…. might sound generous, but to deal with the pandemic’s legacy and underlying public services pressures it is anything but
A pre-budget report by the Fraser of Allander Institute warns against considering the 2022/2023 block grant generous because it is 8% higher than it was before the pandemic.
The institute says in the report published this morning: ‘’The block grant…. might sound generous, but to deal with the pandemic’s legacy and underlying public services pressures it is anything but. ‘’
It adds: ‘’Navigating the health and economic recovery from the pandemic, alongside longer term commitments on climate change and inequality will require a delicate set of budget decisions and trade-offs.’’
The majority of the £35 billion block grant is earmarked for health spending and Covid recovery. Health spending is expected to rise by 15 per cent to £17 billion to meet an ambition to increase NHS capacity by 10 per cent, to continue the fight against Covid and reduce the backlog of treatments for other conditions.
The Scottish government has already committed to doubling the Scottish child payment, which is a flagship policy to tackle poverty, to £20 a week for families on benefits.
There is no doubt the pandemic has changed how we live, and equally the consequences of Covid continue to impact how we live
It agreed the increase in the face of a £20 a week cut in universal credit imposed by the Westminster government.
Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes will publish the 2022-23 Scottish Budget and the Medium Term Financial Strategy on Thursday. She said: “There is no doubt the pandemic has changed how we live, and equally the consequences of Covid continue to impact how we live, how our communities interact with each other and how our businesses operate.
‘’Covid has also brought significant pressures for our public finances, with billions of pounds invested in public health measures, individual support and lifeline financial assistance for thousands of businesses.
“The 2022-23 Scottish Budget will be delivered against these considerable financial challenges, as we continue to prioritise investment in the services, infrastructure and support measures that help build a fairer, greener, more progressive Scotland.
“As always, the Scottish Budget will be informed by voices across Scotland, from the private, public and third sector, to ensure we continue to promote wellbeing, deliver our climate change and net zero ambitions, and get on with the task of transforming our economy to the benefit of all.’’
During a recent online event to discuss the future of the Scottish economy the finance secretary referred to the planning for the Scottish Budget and said: “There simply isn’t enough money to do everything, to put it bluntly”.
She added that Thursday’s budget statement would be accompanied by a multi-year budget document to help businesses plan beyond the typical political cycles.