Kate Forbes to set out Scottish budget
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes will deliver the Scottish budget for 2021-22 on Thursday afternoon.
It will be dominated by the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, though the end of the Brexit transition and climate change are also likely to feature.
The Scottish Government has already been allocated an extra £1.3bn for the year ahead as a result of UK Government spending, though this figure is likely to rise as further measures are announced.
But for the second year in a row, Forbes is setting out her spending plans ahead of the UK budget, meaning the allocation details will not be fully known.
The UK budget is scheduled for Wednesday 3 March.
The Scottish Conservatives have urged the Scottish Government to support local jobs and businesses.
The party has expressed concern about the delivery of various business support funds throughout the pandemic, as well as the delays to increasing broadband coverage and the free childcare expansion.
Leader Douglas Ross said: “The SNP are skilled at making grand announcements, they’re just dreadful at delivering.
“We need a Scottish budget that puts Scottish jobs and businesses first, not another screed of the same overblown, empty promises we get every year.
“When the SNP announce a headline-grabbing figure, this time they should actually deliver it.”
Scottish Labour has called for action to “kickstart” the economy, including business support, rates relief and investment in employment support.
The party is also urging the government to introduce a £15 an hour wage for social care workers and better pay and conditions for NHS staff.
Interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “At this budget, Scottish Labour is demanding an end to SNP timidity and is bringing forward bold proposals to kickstart the economy, remobilise our NHS and deliver a fair deal for NHS and social care workers.
“This pandemic is the greatest economic crisis we have faced in living memory – anything short of the radical proposals tabled by Scottish Labour will be a dereliction of duty.”
The Scottish Government relies on MSPs from at least one other party to pass its budget. For the last several years a deal has been made with the Scottish Green Party.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said his party stood ready to “play a constructive role” in budget discussions, calling for a green recovery to be prioritised.
He said: “We need to see significant investment in public transport, green energy and warm homes, creating green jobs and building a fairer Scotland.”
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have said the budget must have a "needle-sharp focus" on recovery.
Leader Willie Rennie has called for cash to support businesses, schools and mental health services. He said: "A single penny spent on preparing Scotland for another independence referendum is a penny denied to these vital services. This is the first budget of the recovery and the government’s priorities should reflect that.”
The budget bill will be introduced shortly afterwards and is expected to be debated for the first time on 25 February. Amendments and the stage three debate are scheduled to take place after the UK budget, on 8 and 9 March respectively.
The budget statement is scheduled for 2pm.