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Scottish Budget: All you need to know as Kate Forbes vows extra cost-of-living funds in spending plan

Kate Forbes will confirm extra cost-of-living funds.

Scotland’s finance chief, Kate Forbes, is expected to confirm more funding to help families deal with the cost-of-living crisis as Holyrood MSPs vote on the budget for the year ahead.

The SNP finance secretary will announce any final tweaks to government spending plans as the package reaches a final vote today.

The 2022 budget will mark a key point in Scotland’s Covid recovery as the country moves past the worst of the pandemic.

It’s also the first full Holyrood spending review since the SNP brought the Greens into government after last May’s election.

But the budget sparked anger among local councils who will suffer real-term cuts.

A row also erupted between the SNP and Westminster Tories over funds from Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help with rising energy costs.

Cost-of-living funding

Ms Forbes said she will allocate £290 million today in the final stage of her budget to help with the soaring cost-of-living.

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 devolved governments have disputed that this is extra funding.

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

Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

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

Scottish Labour accused the SNP of “lacking in ambition” with their spending plans.

Anas Sarwar had asked Nicola Sturgeon’s party to back calls for a windfall tax on energy firms continuing to profit while families struggle to pay their bills.

The Holyrood Labour boss has also called for an extra £400 payment to be given to families who will be hardest hit.

Council cuts anger

Last month Kate Forbes promised an additional £120 million for councils to stop “inflation-busting” tax rises.

Local authorities will be able to spend the money on whatever they want but it’s hoped the cash can stave off council tax hikes.

Councillors will now be able to set their own local tax rates without Holyrood interference.

But it’s feared some councils may hike up taxes to sustain key services which would otherwise be under threat.

MSPs will vote on the budget.

Before the fresh funds were announced the budget allocation for councils stood at £11 billion.

This represented a real-terms cut of £371 million.

The slashed funding was slammed as “totally unacceptable” with fears vital local services would have to be halted.

Ms Forbes confirmed the total allocated to councils will rise to £12.6 billion, a real-terms cut of £251 million.

It’s feared this could jeopardise plans to expand free childcare in Aberdeen, while planned park upgrades and road safety measures have been scrapped in Dundee.

Ms Forbes said the additional £120 million was equivalent to a 4% rise in council tax.

What else is in the budget?

The SNP revealed they plan to dish out £18 billion for health and social care due to pressures on the NHS created by the pandemic.

The Scottish Child Payment will be doubled to £20 a week from April to help low income families survive.

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

The SNP are also hoping to beef up their green credentials with more investment to meet net zero climate change targets.

They confirmed plans to spend the first £20 million from their Just Transition Fund for the north-east and Moray as fossil fuels are phased out in favour of renewables.

But it’s feared current spending plans could be squeezed by the extra £290 million promised by Kate Forbes to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

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