This week’s budget will help Scotland to “recover and renew” from the Covid-19 pandemic, finance secretary Kate Forbes has said.
Ahead of the delayed announcement, which customarily takes place in December, Kate Forbes said there would not be a public-sector pay freeze similar to that announced by the UK Government and staff would be offered a settlement that was “fair and affordable”.
In pre-budget consultations, the finance secretary said, sectors have stressed the need for targeted support, which she claims will be delivered when she addresses MSPs on Thursday.
In a statement released on Sunday, she also hinted at the extension of rates relief for businesses but said the Scottish Government currently has “limited resources” with which to offer such support due to the delay in the UK Government’s spending pledges announcement.
Forbes said: “The budget on Thursday will create the conditions for Scotland to recover and renew.
“The budget will include innovative, targeted measures to help businesses and families get back on their feet and bolster our vital public services.
“I have already ruled out following the UK Government’s public-sector pay freeze and will set out details of a pay settlement that is both fair and affordable.”
The UK budget has been delayed until March by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, something Forbes said at the time would cause “significant difficulties” in the process north of the border.
In an effort to secure cross-party support for the budget, Forbes continued: “The global pandemic and the problems arising from Brexit combine to make these uniquely challenging times.
“This budget will help Scotland emerge as a globally competitive, fairer and greener country, and I urge all parties to work in the national interest to ensure it is passed by the Scottish Parliament.”
Business group CBI Scotland called for the finance secretary to focus on sustainability and skill in her announcement.
According to the group, the three key areas of focus should be support for businesses in the short term to protect jobs while investing in training for the future and looking at ways to transition to a net zero economy.
CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said: “CBI Scotland argues that a budget focused on support, skills and sustainability can bolster Scotland’s short and long-term economic prospects.
“That means protecting the companies that will deliver growth, investing properly in our workforce and building a net zero economy that not only delivers a better environmental future, but an economic one too.
“Sustainability can be a competitive advantage for Scotland for years to come and deliver a real jobs boost at a time when we need it most.”