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SCOTLANDS BUDGET 2002 BRIEFING No 27
 

ANNUAL BUDGET PROCESS

The Scottish budget process is based on the recommendations of the Financial Issues Advisory Group (FIAG). The process was to be 'open accessible and accountable to the people of Scotland'. Parliament has the opportunity to comment on the Executive's spending plans at several points during the year prior to the annual budget being agreed. Therefore, Parliament's input into this year's budget (2002/03) was made during 2001/02.

BUDGET PROCESS STAGES

There are three main stages of the process with input from the Parliament and the subject committees:

  • Stage 1 (March-June 2001)

  • Publication of Annual Expenditure Report with break down of Executive's spending plans and priorities.
  • Subject committees comment on policy areas, reporting to Finance Committee.
  • Finance Committee reports to Parliament, Parliament debates Report.
  • Stage 2 (Sept December 2001)

  • Executive publishes draft Budget and Spending Plans

  • Subject committees examine and report to Finance Committee.
  • Finance Committee considers draft Budget and may propose alternative.
  • Finance Committee reports, and Parliament debates Report.
  • Stage 3 (January February 2002)

  • The formal Parliamentary process of enacting the Budget Bill. The Executive produces proposals after considering Parliament's recommendations.
  • Parliament debates Budget Bill, only the Executive can move amendments.
  • Parliament votes to accept or reject Bill.
  • If accepted it will authorise expenditure for financial year 2002/03.

BUDGET 2002/03

The 2002/03 Budget delivers a record £19.5 billion to finance the Executive's commitments.

This is a 3.5% increase on last year, and as inflation is around the Government's target of 2.5%, does represent a real terms increase.

Where the money is going:

Local Government

With a budget of over £6.5 billions, the Executive claims a 4% increase in resources to local government. The bulk of the budget goes to support the full range of local authority services. Just under £0.5 billion goes to local authority capital investment in infrastructure: schools, roads and transport. However, UNISON is concerned at the growing reliance on PFI/PPP, and the lack of information on how this money is being spent

Health

The increase in the health budget of nearly £0.5billion on the previous year to over £6billions is very welcome after years of underinvestment. UNISON is pleased to see the incorporation of £100m a year to fund free personal care of the elderly. The budget also funds recommendations of the Commission for the Regulation of Care, improvements to services for cancer, heart disease/stroke and mental illness.

Health promotion measures such as fresh fruit for infants, free toothpaste and toothbrushes for children, and the doubling of the resources to help people quit smoking, are also included. This is all welcome, however, UNISON fears that resources continue to be squandered on PFI/PPP projects. Immense pressures remain on NHS staff with developments in new treatments and technology, rising patient expectations, and re-organisation of health trusts.

Justice

The budget for Justice is just over £1billion, which resources the courts, police, fire and prison services, and provides support for victims. Major new investment in the prison estate, building two new house blocks at Polmont and Edinburgh providing over 500 places, investment in DNA testing and additional funding for the fight against organised crime and to counter terrorist activities.

The additional resources are good news, but UNISON would prefer a firm commitment of more funding for police civilian and court support staff, who remain amongst the lowest-paid public sector workers.

Enterprise & Lifelong Learning

UNISON is concerned that Enterprise & Lifelong Learning sees a drop from 2001/02 levels of around £55m in real terms although the budget is still over £2billion. HE and FE do retain levels of funding to resource over half a million students in higher and further education institutions. The Enterprise budget also aims to safeguard or create 11,000 jobs annually.

Transport

The transport budget is just over £1b for 2002/03, an increase of over £40m on 2001/02. Key priorities are tackling urban congestion, 16 road improvement plans by March 2002, and a further 16 by March 2003.

Social Justice

The Social Justice budget for 2002/03 increases by 5% to £748m. UNISON is alarmed at the emphasis on the Executive's priority of supporting councils in housing stock transfers. However, we welcome the continuing resources for the 5 year programme of central heating installation in social housing.

Education and Children

The Executive claims a £40m increase on the 2001/02 figures taking its budget to £354m. Resources continue to go on modernising school buildings and equipment, broadband connections for schools, additional classroom assistants, and universal provision of nursery education for all 3 and 4 year olds. Again UNISON is concerned at the value for money of the PPP/PFI projects for schools, which often do not result in improved classrooms and facilities.

Environment and Rural Affairs

The Environment and Rural Affairs budget is over £1billion. There is a reduction in resources allocated to rural affairs, but £0.3billion goes to water in Scotland. This is to finalise the creation of Scottish Water, ensure delivery on the improvements in drinking water and waste water quality, and to legislate to implement the EC Water Framework Directive. As expressed in our comments on the Water consultations UNISON is concerned that changes in the industry will impact on levels of service and our members' jobs. We welcome the Executive's acknowledgement that further resources are required in this area, and hope that this is followed up with real finances.

UNISON's Response

Whilst UNISON does welcome the more open and transparent budget process, we still have concerns on the detail and the presentation of information.

The full UNISON response can be viewed on our website at:

http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/budget2.html

FURTHER INFORMATION:

The Budget 2002/03

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/
whats_happening/research/pdf_res_notes/rn01-70.pdf

Budget (Scotland) (No.3) Bill

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parl_bus/bills/b46s1.pdf

Executive's Proposals

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library3/economics/sdb02-00.asp

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