Date for draft Scottish budget announced by finance secretary

Finance secretary Kate Forbes had hoped to announce the budget on December 16.

Date for draft Scottish budget announced by finance secretary PA Media

The draft Scottish budget will be published on December 9, finance secretary Kate Forbes has announced.

The decision comes after an agreement was struck with Holyrood’s Finance and Public Administration Committee.

Committee members pushed for the early December date to allow for greater scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s tax and spending plans before the Christmas recess.

Forbes had hoped to announce the budget on December 16 – leaving just five sitting days in parliament before the break.

Committee convener Kenneth Gibson said in a letter last week the later date would “present practical difficulties to individual committees and be detrimental to our collective efforts to achieve an effective and constructive budget process this year”.

Announcing the date on Wednesday, Forbes said: “There is no doubt the pandemic has changed how we live, and equally the consequences of Covid continue to impact how we live, how our communities interact with each other and how our businesses operate.

“Covid has also brought significant pressures for our public finances, with billions of pounds invested in public health measures, individual support and lifeline financial assistance for thousands of businesses.

“The 2022-23 Scottish Budget will be delivered against these considerable financial challenges, as we continue to prioritise investment in the services, infrastructure and support measures that help build a fairer, greener, more progressive Scotland.

“As always, the Scottish Budget will be informed by voices across Scotland, from the private, public and third sector, to ensure we continue to promote wellbeing, deliver our climate change and net zero ambitions, and get on with the task of transforming our economy to the benefit of all.”

The Scottish Government will publish the draft document on December 9, allowing parliament and its committees to scrutinise the plans over the coming months.

However, in a change from the previous session of parliament, the Scottish Government will not need to negotiate with other parties to pass its budget following the co-operation agreement struck with the Greens in August.