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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Balancing Scotland’s Budget

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Funding to tackle poverty and support fair pay deals.

A total of £46.9 billion was spent last year on public services to help tackle poverty, deliver fair pay deals, and support people displaced by the war in Ukraine, provisional figures have shown.

The 2022-23 Provisional Outturn compares actual spending with the funding commitments set out in the Budget.

It shows there was £244 million remaining – representing just 0.5% of the Scottish Government’s total budget – all of which has been carried over through the Scotland Reserve and allocated to this financial year.

This includes to provide support for local government and funding for the network of ferries supporting Scotland’s islands.  

The figures, which will be finalised later this year, show that throughout 2022-23 the Scottish Government:

  • committed an additional £900 million in fair public sector pay deals, with higher increases for lower earners, as high inflation drove up living costs
  • spent nearly £4.1 billion on Social Security benefits, including by doubling the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week per eligible child
  • doubled the Fuel Insecurity Fund to £20 million to provide immediate support to those most affected by rising energy prices
  • spent £216 million to support those displaced by the war in Ukraine, having welcomed more than 24,000 people from the country since Russia’s invasion

Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur said:

“We are in the most difficult financial situation since devolution, with the lingering effects of austerity, Brexit and the pandemic combining with high inflation and war in Ukraine to place extreme pressure on public finances.

“Despite these challenges, we continue to manage Scotland’s finances prudently while providing the broad range of high quality public services people expect.

“The Scottish Government has a proud record of balancing its budgets – in fact, we are not allowed to overspend, so must leave ourselves with the headroom to manage any shocks or issues that might arise.

“Every penny of the remaining funding has been allocated in full in 2023-24, allowing us to implement measures at the most optimal time, rather than being constrained to a single financial year. 

“As we set out last month in our Medium-Term Financial Strategy, difficult choices are required to ensure we can keep Scotland’s finances on a sustainable footing, as we deliver against our three missions of Equality, Opportunity, and Community.

“We will also continue to press the UK Government to provide sufficient funding and powers to meet the scale of challenges we now face.”

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