Kimberley explores the key commitments in the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2022-23
Kate Forbes set out the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2022-23 on Thursday 9 December in Parliament. This was the first budget under the SNP-Green cooperation agreement, which means there is less need for the government to bargain with opposition parties on its content. It was plugged as a transitional budget, paving the way for a full resource spending review in May 2022 which will set out long-term funding plans and the roadmap for delivering key commitments such as: the establishment of a National Care Service, tackling inequalities, securing a just transition to net zero and investing in economic and public service recovery.
Health & Social Care
The Health & Social Care portfolio now represents 44% of the total resource budget. Specific funding for the continued response to the pandemic was not separately identified in the plans for 2022-23, but the document states: “we await the outcome of further detail that was promised in the UK Spending Review to support our plans.”
The announcement included £18bn funding for health and social care, including £12.9bn for health boards to support patient services. The package contained £1.2bn for mental health coupled with a commitment that 10% of all front-line NHS spend would go to mental health by the end of this parliament. It also included £1.6bn for social care and integration, £165m of which will be used for the creation of a National Care Service. The Finance Secretary confirmed the government plans to deliver a £10.50 minimum wage for social care staff, which received criticism from opposition and industry leaders for not being enough.
Scottish Child Payment
Beyond health, the government also made a commitment to double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week per child from April 2022. Voluntary Health Scotland welcomed this particular commitment having signed a letter, alongside a number of our members, calling for this essential step to be taken in tackling child poverty.
The Voluntary Sector
Scotland’s voluntary sector has raised concerns it is facing up to £1m in cuts from the budget. The cut is to be made to the Third Sector Unit, which provides support for bodies such as SCVO, the TSI network and Volunteer Scotland. This came alongside a commitment to shift towards multi-year funding for the voluntary sector, which was more welcome. Anne Fowlie, CEO of SCVO, has since written to the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing & Local Government outlining the concerns of the sector and the real implications for voluntary organisations trapped in annual cycles of chasing funding.
Kate Forbes’ statement in December was only the beginning of the parliamentary scrutiny, there will now be both committee level and plenary deliberations. Due to the government’s agreement with the Scottish Green Party, the budget is pretty much guaranteed to pass so conversations with opposition parties will likely be different to previous years. A debate on the committees’ pre-budget reports is expected to take place in late January, followed by the Stage 1 debate on the Budget Bill, when MSPs and committees have the opportunity to submit alternative revenue and spending proposals through amendments to the motion on the general principles of the Bill.
- Official Report from Parliament of the budget statement
For further information please contact Kimberley, our Policy Engagement Officer