Scottish budget to be published on 6 February despite delay to UK budget
The Scottish budget is to go ahead in February despite the difficulty of predicting what will be received from Westminster due to a delay to the UK budget.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has announced that the Scottish Government’s budget will be published on 6 February, with the UK budget to follow on 11 March.
The UK budget delay has a serious knock-on impact on Scotland’s councils, who are required to set their budgets and council tax by 11 March, as well as government departments, public bodies and third sector organisations, who won’t know what they can expect to receive until the Scottish budget is published.
Mackay said that in these “exceptional circumstances”, the Scottish Government had taken the decision to publish its own budget ahead of the UK budget as it was “impossible” to wait until after 11 March.
Mackay said: “The UK Government’s approach to the Scottish budget has been completely unacceptable and has shown a disregard for devolution and a lack of fiscal responsibility.
“The timing of the UK budget made it impossible for us to publish our own budget after the UK Government’s without drastically restricting the time for parliamentary scrutiny.
“In these exceptional circumstances, created by the UK Government, it is vital we give local authorities and public services clarity on their budgets.
“That is why we have made the decision to publish our budget in February which will allow local authorities to set their budgets and council tax before the legal deadline of 11 March.
“I look forward to publishing a budget that will help tackle the global climate emergency, reduce child poverty and boost the economy.
“We will work closely with the Scottish Parliament to agree a timetable for the budget bill to allow for maximum scrutiny while ensuring certainty for Scotland’s vital public services.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP said: “This entirely avoidable crisis has been created by the irresponsible UK Government, and it’s throwing Scottish public services into uncertainty.
“There is no risk-free way for the Scottish Government to deal with this situation but waiting until mid-March to publish a budget would be the most damaging option, so we welcome the announcement that it will be published before the UK budget.”