New figures the SNP Government has maximised its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic through efficient budgeting.
The 2019/20 Provisional Budget Outturn reveals a 0.7% underspend - two days of revenue - on a total budget of £34.6 billion due to the coronavirus crisis, with all of the £258 million underspend carried forward and most having already been deployed.
Borrowing was £45 million less than originally planned and the £717 million collected from the Scottish Landfill Tax and the Land and Buildings Transactions Tax was the highest since the taxes were fully devolved, despite COVID-19 affecting revenues in March.
Commenting on the figures, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP said:
“The provisional outturn demonstrates that the Scottish Government spent more than 99% of our budget in 2019/20 on the delivery of public services and supporting the economy.
“Our sensible financial management has provided us with additional flexibility to deal with the effects of COVID-19 and the sustained and damaging post-Brexit economic uncertainty.
“We will continue to maintain a firm grip on Scotland’s public finances and do all we can to protect Scotland’s economy and ensure that, as a country, we are back on our feet as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We have very limited room for manoeuvre within our budget, which is why I will continue to make the case to the UK Government for both an increase in funding and flexibility to allow the Scottish Government to respond fully to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“Under the current devolution settlement, the Scottish Parliament is not allowed to overspend and attempting to spend the exact amount contained in the budget carries a significant risk of breaching the Treasury’s budget cap, so it’s always a tight balancing act, to ensure we maximise the impact of our budget without exceeding it. Westminster can, of course, borrow as it likes and such flexibility is urgently needed by the Scottish Parliament to deal with the economic shocks caused by the pandemic and its aftermath, as well as the end of Brexit transition on 31 December.”