Scottish Budget: What to expect from Kate Forbes’ announcement and how to watch

Scotland’s finance secretary is poised to unveil government spending plans against the backdrop of covid recovery and a cost-of-living crisis as the package reaches a final vote today.

Kate Forbes is expected to announce more funding to help families with the soaring costs of living ahead of the final vote.

It comes as health secretary Humza Yousaf said that the country has now come “through the worst” of the Omicron variant, and will mark a key point in Scotland’s recovery from covid.

The budget will be the first since the powersharing agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens that secured a parliamentary majority.

What can be expected from the budget today?

Cost-of-living crisis

Support for Scots impacted by the cost of living crisis will be outlined by Ms Forbes as MSPs look set to pass the Scottish Budget.

One of the provisions not yet included in the Bill is how consequentials sent north from Westminster as a result of a £2 billion relief package will be allocated.

After Ofgem last week announced a rise in the energy price cap by £693, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last week she would spend “every single penny” on mitigation measures.

Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed additional cash would be given to Holyrood after Ofgem revealed energy bills could surge by 50% from April.

But on Wednesday, the Finance Secretary said on Twitter the £290 million expected in consequentials was not new money.

Ms Forbes said:  will honour our commitment to allocate £290 million to deal with the cost of living crisis in Scotland, with details announced tomorrow.

“It will require us to revise the latest budget position I set out to the Scot Parl last week.”


Covid recovery

Ms Forbes said she plans to outline the spending during the Thursday afternoon debate, as well as the final tranche of business support as part of a £300 million package to aid firms impacted by Covid-19.

She said: “While this Budget is focused on tackling our recovery from Covid, we are acutely aware that the pandemic is not yet over.

“That is why we will provide further details to Parliament on how we are supporting businesses and measures to assist people with the cost of living crisis.”

The budget also allocates “at least £2 billion” in investment to support green jobs and work towards achieving net-zero emissions, Ms Forbes said.

She added: “This budget provides a platform to accelerate our recovery from the pandemic, tackle inequalities, invest in the economy and public services and continue a just transition to net-zero.”


Local governments

Ms Forbes has already outlined an extra £120 million in funding for local government, money she said last month amounts to a 4% rise in council tax, meaning there should be no need for “inflation-busting” increases.

Local government funding has proven to be among the most contentious areas of this year’s Budget process, with council body Cosla saying ahead of the £120 million boost they were in line for a £371 million real terms cut.

That assertion was rejected by ministers, who said the estimate did not take into account cash allocated to other areas that would filter through to councils.


What else is in the budget?

The SNP’s funding package is set to provide £18 billion for health and social care due to pressures on the NHS created by the pandemic.

The Scottish Child Payment will also be doubled to £20 a week from April.

A total of £802 million is being allocated to non-domestic rates relief to help businesses recover from the impact of Covid.

Ms Forbes added:“Our bold, ambitious and progressive funding package provides record levels of funding to help to restore public services – including £18 billion for health and social care.

“The Scottish Government is firmly focused on ensuring we can seize Scotland’s economic potential and secure a just transition to net-zero.

“Our £243,000 grant will help the company ramp up its manufacturing and research and development activities, creating new, skilled jobs.”


When is the budget and where can I watch it?

The Budget (Scotland) Bill is set to be announced today shortly after 2pm and can be watched on Scottish Parliament TV.


Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *