Finance secretary to stress importance of fiscal framework review

Kate Forbes will meet the Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, in London on Thursday.

Finance secretary to stress importance of fiscal framework review Getty Images
Kate Forbes to discuss fiscal agreement with chief secretary to the Treasury.

Scotland’s finance secretary will stress the importance of a review of the fiscal agreement between Scotland and the UK, in a meeting with the chief secretary to the Treasury.

Kate Forbes will meet Simon Clarke in London on Thursday.

A review of the fiscal framework is on the cards, but a date is yet to be set.

Throughout the pandemic, Forbes has pointed out what she claims are weaknesses in the agreement, including the Scottish Government’s inability to borrow money for day-to-day spending.

Forbes said: “We have faced unprecedented economic and fiscal upheaval as a consequence of the pandemic and Brexit.

“As a result, Scotland’s fiscal framework has been thoroughly tested and, in some areas, found wanting.

“I look forward to constructive discussions today with the chief secretary to the Treasury, reflecting on how the framework has performed and considering ways it can be improved.

“I believe that the forthcoming framework review offers a much-needed opportunity to evaluate and scrutinise the current arrangements.

“It is important to consider a wide range of issues to ensure that the Scottish Government and Parliament have the necessary powers and flexibilities to support sound financial planning and manage risk.

“This approach is supported by the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee and the Social Justice and Social Security Committee.

“The review process itself should also be broad in scope, drawing on views beyond government, if we are to properly capture current issues and ensure the framework is fit for purpose in future.

“I hope we are able to make progress today on jointly commissioning the independent report which will inform the review.”

But in a meeting of the Finance and Public Administration Committee last week, the finance secretary did not seem hopeful any review would yield substantial change.

“We’re not getting a huge appetite for change, I’ve certainly not had much evidence of an appetite for change during the pandemic when we looked for temporary fiscal flexibilities – so I think it’s unlikely,” she said.

“But I do think there’s an opportunity for civic Scotland, on a cross-party basis, to come to a position on borrowing that is actually good for Scottish businesses and the Scottish economy.”