An Audit Scotland Report says the UK Government’s refusal to guarantee level of funding for 2021/22 will make Scottish Government financial planning more challenging.
On Tuesday, Kenneth Gibson MSP and his colleagues on the Finance and Public Administration Committee took evidence from Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland and Mark Taylor, Director at Audit Scotland, on their report ‘Tracking the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s public finances’.
The session informed the Committee’s pre-budget scrutiny and set the scene for the Autumn Budget Revision expected to be laid in the coming weeks.
The report sets out the “unprecedented” sums that have been allocated by the Scottish Government to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on health, society and the economy.
It also states that over 300 individual spending measures have been taken thus far, the most significant having been in the areas of financial support to business, health and social care and local government.
However, unlike in 2020/21, the UK Government has not guaranteed the level of Barnett funding for 2021/22, which Audit Scotland argues makes medium-term financial planning and dealing with uncertainties arising from the pandemic more challenging.
Committee Convener Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“Increasingly, the Scottish Budget is subject to a high degree of change during the financial year. This volatility has been exacerbated during the pandemic.
“The UK Government must therefore guarantee the level of Barnett funding for 2021/22 so that the Scottish Government may have enough time to ensure sufficient financial planning in the best interest of Scottish businesses, people and the public sector.”
Audit Scotland’s Report can be accessed here.