Finance secretary Derek Mackay has warned Scotland’s budget will be subject to the spending promises of the Conservative’s election manifesto.
Thursday afternoon will see Mr Mackay unveil the government’s tax and spending plans, ahead of Westminster’s budget next month.
The “unusual” timing of Thursday’s announcement means Mr Mackay will not have a definitive figure for the block grant – the amount of money allocated to the Scottish parliament by Westminster determined by Barnett consequentials and the government’s own revenue raising forecast – meaning there could be a shortfall.
The SNP finance leader said estimations were being taken on spending commitments promised by Boris Johnson’s Conservative party at the December election.
The Scottish Conservatives have accused the finance secretary of bringing about “faux outrage” about the budget.
People have had quite enough of the faux outrage from the SNP about budget timing.”
— Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Conservatives
Last year’s “Brexit election” resulted in a delay to the UK budget, which has had a knock-on for devolved parliaments and local authorities.
Mr Mackay said: “This Budget is set against the backdrop of heightened uncertainty and risk, created by the UK Government following their decision to delay the UK Budget until March.
“The delayed UK Budget has meant the Scottish Government has had to estimate the Barnett consequentials that could be forthcoming for Scotland at the UK Budget in March. These are based on commitments made during the General Election and the UK Government must now deliver on these promises in full.
“The uncertainty caused by both the delay to the UK Budget and the UK’s exit from the EU last week is unacceptable, and has forced the Scottish Government to take the exceptional decision to publish our Budget ahead of the UK Government’s.
“I would urge the Scottish Parliament to work constructively with us and support this Budget to provide much needed clarity for local authorities and our vital public services.”
The Scottish Conservatives held a debate yesterday ahead of the budget announcement, claiming there was “no case for tax increases or further cuts to public services”.
Finance spokesman Murdo Fraser MSP added: “There is already a great deal of information in the public domain which enables the finance secretary to go ahead and put his budget proposals to the Scottish Parliament.
“The Welsh Government were able to do that and historically Scottish budgets were presented in September – well ahead of UK budgets.
“So people have had quite enough of the faux outrage from the SNP about budget timing.
“Instead, they should be focusing on how to spend the millions extra coming to Scotland thanks to UK Government spending.”
“Timidity and mismanagement”
Scottish Labour finance spokeswoman Rhoda Grant said: “The last 13 years of SNP governance have been characterised by timidity and mismanagement on one hand and grandiose bluster on the other.
“The fact of the matter is our NHS, education system, social care and public transport are all in worse shape than they were when the SNP came to power.
“We want to help end this. That is why Scottish Labour are offering to support the government’s budget if they support free bus travel for under 25’s that will provide opportunities for our young people, provide a fair deal to local government with a focus on social care, fund further and higher education properly and encourage low carbon transport.
“These changes will help to kickstart Scotland’s economy, provide a clear response to the threat of the climate emergency, ensure those in need are properly looked after and share opportunity among all young people, not just a privileged few.
“Scottish Labour is clear – It’s time for investment in Scotland at this year’s budget.”