In his budget statement of 11th September 2013, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment & Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, stated that this was a budget:
- focused on delivering investment, protecting household incomes and creating jobs
- that values our public services, the people that work for them and what they achieve.
- that provides opportunities for our young people and security of care for our older people.
- that demonstrates the benefits of decisions being made here, by those who care most about the future of Scotland.
Arguing that Scotland had the financial wealth, workforce and resources to become a prosperous independent nation, he noted the financial constraints on the draft Budget before outlining more positive statistics on employment, GDP and output. He reported that the budget was balanced, with savings delivered by the Scottish Futures Trust and other public sector efficiency. Capital borrowing powers of up to £296m would be used in 2015-16 to support the investment programme.
Employability, Skills and Learning
- Allocation of £190 million in the next two years to fund the Children and Young People Bill, providing an additional 125 hours of early learning and childcare for all three and four year olds, and looked after two year olds.
Supporting people and communities
- A commitment that NHS prescriptions, eye tests and personal care will remain free, the concessionary bus travel scheme will be maintained, the Education Maintenance Allowance and, from 2014-15, a minimum income for students will be available.
Health and Local Government
- Barnett consequentials for the NHS revenue budget delivered in full in both 2014-15 and 2015-16
- Resource funding for local authorities maintained in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Public Service Reform
- Published alongside the draft Budget is an Agreement on Joint Working, “which places clear expectations on the public sector to work together to ensure that resourcing decisions are focused on the local priorities of each community planning partnership and that budgets are shared.”
- Full funding in 2014-15 the three change funds announced in the Spending Review, supporting efforts to reshape care for older people, drive progress in early years and reduce reoffending.
- Investment of £8.5m in the fourth year of the Early Years Change Fund and the year’s extension to the Reducing Reoffending Change Fund.
- Allocation of £100m via NHS Boards (and accessible to local authorities, the third sector and others), to drive the shift towards prevention. to fund activity as part of Reshaping Care for Older People Fund.
- £20 million deployed to support national initiatives – a total of £120 million in 2015-16 to assist the integration of adult health and social care services.
- The costs of Westminster’s approach to public finances are increasingly borne by the most vulnerable.
- From 2010 to 2015 their cuts to welfare benefits will take an estimated £4.5 billion out of the Scottish economy, widening the gap between rich and poor.
- This Scottish Government has neither the legal powers nor the financial resources to meet every cut or mitigate all the damage done by Westminster.
- Last year I announced that, working with our partners in local government, we would act to protect over 500,000 people in receipt of council tax benefit who would otherwise have struggled to pay their bills each month as a result of a Westminster decision to cut funding for successor arrangements by 10%.
- £23m allocated to Council Tax Reduction Scheme – to be lifted to £40m with the contribution of local government.
- Scottish Welfare Fund to be maintained at £33 million in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
- Up to £20m to be invested to “help those struggling the most with the costs of the bedroom tax.”
Read in full: Scottish Budget Draft Budget 2014-15
Voluntary Health Scotland is grateful to www.newsdirect-uk.com for their summary of the Scottish Government’s budget announcement, from which we have extracted the above key messages.