Scottish budget: everything you need to know about this year's spending plans

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:38 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 12:01 pm
MSP Kate Forbes will unveil the Scottish budget later today (Shutterstock)
MSP Kate Forbes will unveil the Scottish budget later today (Shutterstock)

The Scottish government is set to announce tax and spending plans for the year ahead - here's everything you need to know.

When is the budget announced?

The Scottish Parliament budget is set o be announced at 2pm on Thursday afternoon (February 6).

Who's delivering the budget?

Derek Mackay sensationally stepped down from his role as Finance Minister this morning after being accused of sending messages to a 16-year-old boy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accepted the 42-year-old's resignation and in his place the Scottish budget will be delivered by Kate Forbes.

Kate Forbes, 29, was elected as a Member of Scottish Parliament at the 2016 election and has served as Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy.

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How big is the Scottish budget?

The exact budget has yet to be revealed, with both leading and opposition parties debating the true scale of the budget.

Last year the Scottish budget was just shy of £34bn - £5bn to be spent on infrastructure and the rest put to use on public services.

The Conservative Party have claimed that Scotland will have an extra £1.1bn to spend in 2020/21, but the SNP can also claim that the block grant - as calculated by the Barnett Formula - is less than it was in 2010.

What to expect from this year's budget

Almost half of the budget will be spent on health - for the 2019/2020 budget 41% was put towards health spending.

Elsewhere local government will absorb a sizeable chunk of the budget, which claims over 25% of the total budget.

Transport, justice and education will take up the lion's share of the rest of the budget. Social security and environmental should also see a steep increase as Scotland gets a greater grip of benefits spending.

How does Scotland raise funds?

Scotland holds its own separate income tax rates and bands, holding five compared to the three held by the rest of the UK.

The two new rates were introduced to relieve the lowest earners and squeeze the highest earners. This will likely remain the same as it was set for the parliamentary term, however, thresholds may be shifted in line with inflation.

When is the UK budget?

Chancellor Sajid Javid will announce the UK budget a month after Scotland on March 11.

Typically Scottish Parliament would wait for the UK government to announce their spending plans, but former Finance Minister Mackay stated in January that "exceptional circumstances created by the UK government" meant that it was "vital we give local authorities and public services clarity on their budgets."

Will the budget pass?

The budget requires the support of opposition MSPs.

The Greens have backed budgets in recent years, while conservative MSPs backed Alex Salmond's minority government from 2007.

The first debate on the bill will take place on February 27 with a vote set for the following Thursday - the ruling government will be keen to have a deal done by then.