The Budget

November 19, 2010

Wednesday saw the publication of the SNP’s draft Budget plans for 2011/12.

There are parts we welcome: the Scottish Conservatives have been the only party to support the Council Tax Freeze, and we support extending it. Protecting Police numbers – a key Conservative concession in the 2008 Budget – is also welcome. Pay restraint won’t be popular, but it will mean that fewer people lose their jobs than if we don’t take action.

In some areas, we need more information on what the Budget would mean in practice. For example, can the prisons budget be reduced by as much as planned without negative consequences on law and order?

On a strategic level, we know that spending levels will be lower in the future – not as low as predicted, and around the same as in 2005/6, but lower nonetheless. We think that means the case for reforming public services is more compelling than ever. Does the Budget do that? We remain to be convinced. And it is difficult to know why only in Scotland should the Government resist publishing longer term spending plans. In a spending review year, the Scottish Government has always published projections for later years. The fact that the SNP Government hasn’t done that this year raises concerns about the sustainability of the plans.

So the jury is still out. That’s hardly surprising – the Committee scrutiny has yet to begin, and in previous years it has been discussions in January/February, rather than the autumn, which really determine whether there is a majority in Parliament for the plans.


Looking Back: Budget 2010 – The Independent Budget Review

November 19, 2010

The Independent Budget Review

The 2010 Budget saw the Conservatives negotiate the establishment of an independent review of all Government spending in Scotland. The Independent Budget Review, published in July 2010, changed the terms of political debate and opened up fundamental questions about the role of Government in Scotland.

The report is available here.

Parliament debated the report in September. The debate is available here.

Looking Back: Budget 2010 – Transparency Measures

November 19, 2010

“At a time when budgets are being squeezed and difficult decisions are being taken about policies and programmes, I recognise that the public’s interest in how Government spends their money will be particularly acute. I accept the case that was made by the Conservatives that we should publish online greater information about Government expenditure, and I announce that I will take forward their proposal that we publish online all items of expenditure above £25,000. The scheme will commence with the publication of our expenditure for April 2010 and will continue on a monthly basis thereafter.” – Finance Secretary John Swinney agrees to Conservative requests for greater transparency in Government spending in the 2010 Budget.

Scotland was the first part of the UK where the Conservative transparency measures came into force, with the UK Government following suit in November.

Looking Back: Budget 2009 – The Town Centre Regeneration Fund

November 19, 2010

The 2009 Budget was the one defeated by Labour, Lib Dem and Green MSPs. It was passed a week later after the Labour and Lib Dem parties retreated in the face of public anger.

The £60m Town Centre Regeneration Fund was negotiated by Derek in the Budget discussions.

Successful bids in the South of Scotland:

Castle Square, Stranraer                                                                Stranraer £790,000

Kilmarnock – Connecting Places                                                 Kilmarnock £1,156,551

Prestonpans & Tranent Town Centres Support Project                    Prestonpans, Tranent £ 300,000

Jedburgh Town Centre Regeneration Project                                       Jedburgh £606,745

Dumfries: A Capital Project                                                                     Dumfries £1,965,000

All the Airts                                                                                               Sanquhar £341,032

Dunbar Town Centre Improvement Project                                              Dunbar £416,850

Hawick Town Centre Environmental Improvements                            Hawick £353,000

Ayr Renaissance – North Hub Redevelopment                                        Ayr £ 2,258,000

Biggar Corn Exchange Development                                                       Biggar £197,354

Looking Back – Budget 2008: more Police

November 19, 2010

“AN EXTRA 500 police officers are to be recruited across Scotland, after the SNP government agreed to a last-minute change to next year’s £30 billion Budget Bill.

In an attempt to secure Tory support, the administration agreed to change the Budget, diverting £10 million from prisons, road maintenance and health to boost police recruitment.

The Conservatives have been pushing for an extra 500 new police officers, and SNP ministers will hope that last night’s concession is enough to get their support.”

The Scotsman – 1st February, 2008

Looking Back: Budget 2008: Help for small businesses

November 19, 2010

“The SNP’s chances of success were in doubt until Mr Swinney made his opening speech, offering fresh concessions to opposition MSPs.
The Tories decided to support the Budget after he said he would do as they wanted and accelerate the business rates relief scheme.”

The Scotsman, 7th February 2008