The Finance Committee today called on the Scottish Government to be more transparent about how it has approached giving priority in its spending plans to protecting front-line services and supporting economic growth.
The recommendations are published in the committee’s report on the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget for 2010-11. The publication follows the committee’s scrutiny of the draft budget together with a strategic view of public finances in the medium term.
In terms of the 2010-11 Draft Budget, the committee’s conclusions and recommendations include:
- requesting that the Scottish Government provides a more detailed explanation of how it has approached prioritisation of protecting services and supporting economic growth
- concern at an apparent lack of transparency regarding some efficiency savings which makes it impossible to examine adequately the impact they have on the funds available for service delivery
- requesting a full explanation from the Scottish Government of how it has assessed the contribution that different uses for potential additional capital acceleration funds would make to its priority outcome targets
On more strategic, longer-term issues, the committee’s conclusions and recommendations include:
- while recognising that precise figures on capital budgets are not available, the Scottish Government should provide an indicative projection of how all projects will be prioritised over the next 10 years
- that the Scottish Government provides the committee with a detailed explanation of how it plans to approach the essential debate on achieving efficiency in public services.
The committee has also made a number of recommendations on how budgetary information needs to link more clearly with the Scottish Government’s objectives and performance-management framework. The committee has asked the Scottish Government to respond to these recommendations in time to provide appropriate information to the Parliament to support its budget scrutiny in Spring 2010.
Committee convener Andrew Welsh MSP said: “As well as examining the detail of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the coming financial year, the Finance Committee has sought to continue its work in encouraging the Government to take a longer-term, strategic view of public finances in Scotland.
"This will be crucial in dealing with the challenges we anticipate over coming years.
"In terms of the Draft Budget for 2010-11, the committee, and the subject committees, have made a number of constructive suggestions and I look forward to the Scottish Government’s response to our report.”
The Parliament will debate the committee’s report later in December.
The Draft Budget sets out the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the £35 billion which comprises its budget for 2010-11. The Finance Committee is responsible for the overall scrutiny of the Budget and for co-ordinating responses from the Parliament’s subject committees on the spending plans for their respective portfolios.
Following the parliamentary debate on the Finance Committee report in December, the Scottish Government will publish the annual Budget Bill in January 2010 which will legislate for spending in the financial year 2010-11.