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Briefing on Scottish Budget Spending Review 2007 (Briefing 171) Nov 2007
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Briefing on Scottish Budget Spending Review 2007 (Briefing 171)

November 2007

Introduction

The Finance Minister John Swinney has announced the Government's spending plans for 2008 to 2011 in The Scottish Budget Spending Review 2007. This is probably the tightest and the most contentious budget since devolution. This briefing outlines the key issues for UNISON Scotland.

Budget outline

Overall government spending is set to rise at 1.5% per annum between 2007 and 2011. There is though a wide variation across individual portfolios. This year's budget also makes comparison harder as portfolios have been reorganised to meet the new government's priorities. Whilst there are a number of attractive headline announcements, we need to look beyond these to the impact on base line budgets. The budget assumes a 2% pay increase - a real term cut in wages.

All public sector bodies are expected to make efficiency savings of 2%. This is an increase from 1.5%. There is no strategy as to how these savings are to be achieved. Even if they are, for many services these cash release savings would only maintain services at the current level rather than increase delivery. Without a strategy efficiency targets are simply financial savings that could impact on jobs and services. .

Spending by Portfolio

AT 2007-08 PRICES USING GDP DEFLATOR OF 2.7%

2008-09 Draft Budget £m

2009-10 Plans
£m

2010-11 Plans £m

The First Minister

273.3

278.5

282.3

Finance and Sustainable Growth

5,839.6

5,890.9

5,856.4

Health and Wellbeing

10,925.8

11,132.7

11,287.5

Education and Lifelong Learning

2,465.4

2,475.1

2,496.8

Justice

1,013.9

1,030.2

1,027.1

Rural Affairs and the Environment

599.7

604.6

601.8

Administration

239.2

237.6

236.6

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal

107.3

112.6

111.5

Local Government

10,844.5

11,006.1

11,094.0

Scottish Parliament and Audit Scotland

107.1

107.6

107.9

Total

32,415.8

32,875.9

33,101.9

Local Government

John Swinney announced a" historic" concordat with COSLA supporting his council tax freeze in return for an extra £70 million this year and less ring fencing on central funding. COSLA have indicated that they have agreed to put the plans to individual councils for their approval and that no national freeze has been agreed. The level of ring fencing will reduce to about£.05billion this year and £.03billion by 2011. This includes important budget lines such as Community Wardens the cost of which will now fall on local authorities.

Local Government will now receive an average increase of 1.6% per annum. Councils will though have to achieve efficiency savings of 2%, reduce class sizes and introduce free school meals. £20 million has also been set aside in the public sector reform budget to pay for the introduction of an Income Tax to fund local government in 2011.


Health

Health and Wellbeing funding includes spending that was previously in other portfolios for example housing and regeneration. Health spending will rise to £11.5billion by 2110/11 and total health and well being spending will be £12.2billion. The NHS budget will rise to £8.6billion by the same date. While this is a 1.4% increase in the total health portfolio health boards will only receive a 0.5% increase per year. Spending in England will rise by 3.9%. Capital spending will rise by 2.1% mainly funding the new Southern General in Glasgow, but general medical services funding is down by 2.6% per annum, and general dental services by 2.6%.

Housing

The health and wellbeing portfolio retained £480.6million for housing and regeneration and this is expected to rise by 3.2% per annum. There is also nothing to indicate that the implied £200 million transfer to local authorities will be increased at this rate. This will not cover the rising costs therefore the budget for social housing has been cut by 6% in real terms.

Education

Classroom size pledges, expanded nursery hours and student debt cancellation promises have been dropped or delayed. The schools budget has been cut by 1.6% in real terms. The children's, young people and social care budget, now in Education and lifelong learning, has been cut by 6.9%.Universities had asked for an increase of £168million but only got £30million leaving many complaining that Scottish institutions will no longer be able to compete on the world stage.

Transport

The transport total funding will reach £6.3billion by 2010. Motorway and trunk road funding is up 9.2% funding the M74 extension and Aberdeen peripheral route while air traffic takes the brunt of the cuts. The bus subsidy and concessionary fares have been frozen which is a cut in real terms.

 

Justice

The headlines in justice focused on the £54million to recruit 500 new officers rather than the 1000 promised in the manifesto. The legal Aid budget has been cut by 1.8%. The police grant will remain ring fenced.

Initial UNISON response

While UNISON has welcomed specific initiatives like the end of ring fencing of local government funds and the abolition of prescription charges we are concerned about the below inflation increases for base line public services. UNISON is particularly sceptical about achieving 2% efficiency savings without cuts in jobs and services.

Action for Branches

There will be further briefings on detailed issues in the budget. Branches should forward views on the budget to Kay Sillars at k.sillars@unison.co.uk.

Contacts list:

Kay Sillars

k.sillars@unison.co.uk

Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk

 

@ The P&I Team,

14 West Campbell Street,

Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0870 777006

Fax 0141 342 2835

 

Further info

Budget papers

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/11/13092240/0

Concordat

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/11/13092240/concordat

SNP manifesto

http://www.snp.org/policies

Centre for Public Policy for Regions

Scottish Government's budget Winners and Losers

http://www.cppr.ac.uk/media/media_54044_en.pdf

 

 

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Further Information

Budget papers
www.scotland.gov.uk/
Publications/2007/11/13092240/0

Concordat
www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/
2007/11/13092240/concordat

SNP manifesto
www.snp.org/policies

Centre for Public Policy for Regions
Scottish Government's budget Winners and Losers
www.cppr.ac.uk/media/
media_54044_en.pdf

Contacts list:

Kay Sillars
k.sillars@unison.co.uk

Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk

@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Glasgow G26RX
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141-307 2572