No explanation given for Scottish capital budget cut, Kate Forbes says
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has said the UK Government has not provided an explanation for why the Scottish Government’s capital budget appears to have been cut in its spending review.
Forbes said that looking beyond the headline figures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday that the Scottish Government's capital budget has been cut by 5 per cent.
She said the UK Government should “ensure that every part of the country is getting the funding that it needs, not just in rhetoric, but also in substance.”
The UK Treasury announced that Scotland would be receiving an additional £2.4bn in cash over the next year.
On top of that, Sunak announced that city and region deals in Tayside, the Borders, Moray and the Islands would see more rapid investment that had previously been planned.
Around £200m is also expected to be spent in Scotland via the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is a replacement for EU Structural Funds for infrastructure investment.
But UK ministers have so far refused to say whether some or all of that money would be routed through the Scottish Government or spent directly by the UK Government in Scotland.
The spending review also included a controversial cut to foreign aid spending as well as a freeze on public sector pay.
Forbes responded to the spending review on Wednesday, saying that Chancellor Rishi Sunak had made the wrong decision to freeze public sector pay and had not provided enough certainty ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period.
She also accused the UK Government of cutting the Scottish Government capital budget while increasing the UK’s over all.
Forbes was asked on BBC radio on Thursday morning whether the UK Government had provided any explanation for the move.
She said: “Not yet, and those figures only came out in the background Treasury documents”.
She added: “Whilst there's a headline of a £27bn increase across the UK that the Chancellor made yesterday, if you look beyond the figures, you see that actually the Scottish Government's capital budget has been cut by 5 per cent.”
The Scottish Government plans to set out its own budget on 28 January.
Forbes said “it will have a focus on tackling inequalities, it will focus on economic growth, and it will focus on the ongoing health challenge.”
She also suggested that Scottish public sector workers would not see their pay frozen in January.
She said: “we will build on our approach over the last few years, which is to recognise the work that is done by our key workers on our public sector workers, and we'll build on that.
“And you can also expect a recognition of the work that our key workers have done, particularly during the pandemic to keep us all safe.”