Parliament is currently considering its first Budget Bill. This
Bill sets out how the Scottish Executive proposes to spend the
block grant agreed with the UK Treasury in 2000/01.
In a normal
financial year there will be three stages:
April and June views are sought on future spending priorities.
October and December Parliament considers Minister's draft spending
- In February
Parliament enacts the Budget Bill which gives authority to spend
the money from 1 April.
As the Scottish
Parliament only started on 1 July the consultation process for
this year had to be shortened starting at stage 2.
is the Money spent
budget for 2000/01 is £16,655m. This constitutes a 3% increase
on the previous year. As inflation is currently 1.8% this represents
a real term increase in expenditure. However, there are gainers
claims a 3.6% increase in spending on local government taking
the total spend to £6,727m. However, the published plans
show an increase of only 2.4%. Within this budget education and
social work gain at the expense of other services including environmental
health, cleansing and leisure. No specific provision has been
made for pay or any recognition of the single status agreement.
3.35% increase looks like a modest rise in expenditure taking
the total spend to £5,246m. However, hospitals and community
services only get a 2.11% increase. Most of the increase goes
on the drugs bill, up 10.48%. Given the financial state of many
NHS Trusts the NHSiS needs a much more substantial increase in
commenting on individual budgets UNISON has strongly criticised
the presentation of the spending plans.
totalling £384m covers mainly small centrally funded initiatives.
The main budget is included in local government.
budget (£663m) covers mostly central initiatives. A large
increase for New Housing Partnerships at the expense of local
authority housing. A welcome increase in the Warm Deal and Social
& Life Long Learning
real term cut in expenditure down to £1875m although not
in the mainstream HE and FE sectors. An unwelcome cut in Careers
is being reduced to £535m although criminal justice social
work services are protected from these cuts.
in resources to £554m goes mostly to farmers under the CAP.
Scotland spends as much on supporting farms as we do on further
cut down to £283m although the roads programme is protected.
the water industry is being cut by £7m and this is reflected
in the recent increase in water charges. As with Transport the
additional cost of PFI eats into this budget.
It is a theme
in many of these budgets that money is held back for centrally
funded initiatives at the expense of services administered locally.
documents give only a superficial view of the Scottish Executive's
spending plans. The political `spin' frequently does not match
with the hard figures. If financial decisions are "to be
shared with the people of Scotland" as the Executive claims
then greater detail and clarity is required.
UNISON's criticisms were supported by the Scottish Parliament
Finance Committee in their submission.
The 1st stage
consultation on next years budget will begin shortly. UNISON's
Scottish Committee has established a number of Policy Pools which
will look at each budget in detail and the Public Finance Policy
pool will pull together the UNISON Scotland response.
ideas from branches and members would be welcomed and can be directed
to Dave Watson at the address below.
The full UNISON Scotland
response can be viewed by clicking
The Scottish Executive
consultation document "Spending Plans for Scotland"
can be accessed at:
The Budget Bill is available on:
the P&I Team,
14 West Campbell Street,
Tel 0141-332 0006
Fax 0141-307 2572
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