How people responded to our ambitious 2020-21 #ScotBudget

The SNP Scottish Government have set out a budget for 2020-21 that delivers record amounts for vital public services and tackles the climate emergency.

Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes set out the Scottish Budget to Holyrood on Thursday, announcing an investment of £15 billion in health and care services, £645 million for the expansion of early learning and childcare, and £1.8 billion of investment in low carbon infrastructure which will help reduce emissions and accelerate Scotland’s transition to a net-zero economy.

Our ambitious Budget plans have been supported by voices from across Scottish society and industry:

Andrew McRae, Policy Chair, FSB Scotland: “After this week’s parliamentary drama around Business Rates, there are some sensible moves on reliefs.  It’s great news that the lifeline Small Business Bonus Scheme is safe, as are tax breaks for those who invest in their premises.  Given the particular pressures facing the sector, it’s also good that relief for day nurseries has been confirmed for another year.

“We also welcome the intent to achieve a degree of tax stability and the prediction that income tax divergence with the rest of the UK is not predicted to increase, notwithstanding what happens in the UK Budget next month.”

Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland said: “Lowering the poundage rate for some medium-sized firms unfairly caught by the large business supplement is a step in the right direction and builds on the important decision to protect the Uniform Business Rate.

“Increased long-term investment in low carbon infrastructure is welcome and business stands ready to play its role on the road to a net zero economy. 

“With access to skills remaining a top business concern, increase in funding for colleges and universities is a vital measure that will help to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in a world of work that’s rapidly changing.”

Fraser Grieve, Head of Communications, SCDI: “We support the steps that have been taken to support net zero, including the extra funding for infrastructure, a Heat Transition Deal, agriculture, and the Scottish National Investment Bank. Evidently this will need to be ramped-up following publication of a new Climate Change Plan.

“The forecasts from the Scottish Fiscal Commission published today show the need to continue to focus on increasing inclusive growth and productivity. We welcome the firm commitment of the Scottish Government to modernise key connectivity infrastructure for the north of Scotland.”

David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium: “After tough trading conditions in 2019, retailers will feel cheered by some of the positive announcements in this Scottish Budget. The Scottish Government have clearly listened to the SRC’s concerns: keeping rises in the headline business rate poundage down, protecting ordinary workers from increases in income tax rate rises, and making tangible progress on reducing the burden of the large business supplement.”

On Income Tax:

“With retail sales currently sluggish we have raised concerns rises in income tax rates for ordinary workers would harm the economy. The decision to increase the threshold for the lower and starter rates of income tax whilst freezing the tax rate for all workers is a positive decision which will bring some comfort to hard-pressed shop owners.  We hope MSPs will continue to keep down costs on consumers at a time of economic fragility.”

Shona Struthers, Chief Executive, Colleges Scotland, said:

Colleges Scotland welcomes the Draft Budget announced in the Scottish Parliament as it is the largest revenue increase in over ten years for the college sector.  This represents a 5.52% cash terms increase on last year’s revenue resource allocation, and it is extremely pleasing that the Scottish Government clearly recognises the critically important role colleges have in delivering the skills and qualifications for almost 265,000 learners to develop their careers and the positive impact these institutions have across Scotland’s communities and how they help increase inclusive economic growth.

“The college sector’s revenue resource budget has increased by £33.5 million to £640 million – a real terms rise of around 3.6% – and continues to include investment for lecturing and support staff through National Bargaining as well as the £10 million investment for the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. The Draft Budget also provides the college sector’s specific additional investment requirements, including £11.2 million sector inflationary costs, an additional £11 million Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme costs arising from HM Treasury increasing employer contributions, £5.5 million for a sector Change Fund, and £1.7 million for free sanitary products in the sector.”

Tom Hall, Policy Officer, Colleges Scotland: “All things #ScottishBudget this afternoon. College sector revenue resource budget has increased to £640 million, a real terms rise of around 3.6%. Very pleasing that the Scottish Government is recognising the role of colleges in delivering skills and qualifications @CollegesScot

Rob Murray, CEO, Cancer Support Scotland: “#ScotBudget 2020/21 delivered by@KateForbesMSP. Great to see £117m for mental health and £1b for Health & Social Care. Devil will be in the detail however a positive step forward and I hope a holistic approach to delivery of #wellbeing & #Cancer services is sought.”

Neil Findlay MSP on Twitter: “Absolutely delighted that my campaign for a mesh injured women’s fund has been successful – it is in the budget, campaigning pressure has paid off.”

Chris Stark, Chief Executive, Committee for Climate Change: “We’re pleased to see climate change taking centre stage in Scotland’s Budget. Scotland has committed to reaching Net Zero emissions by 2045, five years earlier than the UK as a whole, so funding for difficult to decarbonise areas such as heat and agriculture is welcome.

“Ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, Scotland and the UK must demonstrate that they can lead the world in tackling climate change. Turning ambitious targets into fully-funded policies which deliver real emissions cuts are part of that story. Today’s announcements show that Scotland is serious about the scale, and importance, of the Net Zero challenge.”

Sarah-Jane Laing, Chief Executive, Scottish Land & Estates: “Delighted to see #scotbudget spending commitment to helping farmers, foresters & land managers play an even greater party in tackling the climate emergency.” 

Thomas Quinn, Parliamentary Affairs Manager, RSPB Scotland: “Welcome announcement from @KateForbesMSP on increased support for one of our best natural solutions to the Climate Emergency. This spending will be a boost to nature, rural economies and our Climate! #scotbudget

Scottish Carbon and Capture Storage: “#ScottishBudget: @KateForbesMSPannounces £1.8bn investment in low-carbon infrastructure – hopefully this will include the crucial #CCS infrastructure we need to decarbonise industry and open the door to low-carbon hydrogen and greenhouse gas removals.”

Lyndsey Croal, Policy Advisor at WWF Scotland: “Big boost for nature-based solutions to climate change with multi-year funding of £250m over 10 years for peatland restoration (£20m this year) and additional spending for forestry #ScotBudget#ScottishBudget

Soil Association Scotland: “Great to hear funds allocated to @scotgov’s Agricultural Transformation Programme. Farmers are a vital part of the solution to climate change and biodiversity loss #scotbudget” 

WWF Scotland:  “The #ScotBudget steps up funding to tackle the climate crisis. It will reduce emissions. Soak up more carbon. Create new jobs. Cleaner air.”

RSPB Scotland: Increased funding for peatland restoration is welcome news, particularly the commitment to enable large scale projects over multiple years. We need more of this to help deliver large-scale nature restoration across Scotland in other habitats.

Iain Livingstone, Chief Constable, Police Scotland: “I have made our financial situation clear in recent weeks and I welcome the package announced by the Scottish Government today.

“The creation of a single national service has enabled responsive and visible local policing to be maintained and transformed how we deal with serious crime and major incidents.” 

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive, The Scottish Tourism Alliance said: “The Scottish Tourism Alliance welcomes the announcements made in today’s draft budget, many of which have been outlined clearly in our direct asks to the Scottish Government on behalf of Scotland’s tourism industry.

“As we move towards the launch of Scotland’s future tourism strategy and headline actions on the 4th March, we are encouraged at the supportive measures for businesses announced today, one of which will see 95% of properties paying a lower poundage in business rates than the rest of the UK in addition to business rates relief for many businesses.

“This is hugely positive news for the tourism sector in particular and I am sure that many of our businesses will welcome the opportunity to capitalise on this relief and turn thoughts towards investment in their product and people.

“We are particularly encouraged by the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in infrastructure.  Our connectivity, transport and infrastructure is without a doubt one of the most important areas which has lacked sustained investment; it is absolutely critical that this continues to be a priority policy if we are to deliver the vision of the future strategy of being the world leaders in 21st century tourism.

“We also welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to invest in our destinations, with the announcement of £201M for city deals and the £28M for South of Scotland Enterprise which will support the creation and delivery of new and better experiences for visitors to Scotland in line with the expectations and demands of today’s visitor.

“Overall, we are encouraged by the support for businesses, infrastructure and our destinations which we would expect to see the Scottish Government build on this commitment to ensure the successful delivery of Scotland’s future tourism strategy.”

Poverty Alliance: “That the #ScotBudget bolsters the Scottish Welfare Fund and will deliver the Scottish Child Payment is welcome. These measures will help to protect people struggling to stay afloat.”

CPAG Scotland: ”We welcome the increase to the Scottish Welfare Fund and the funds committed for the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment as part of today’s #ScotBudget”

Royal Blind: “Additional funding for attainment in schools in #ScotBudget is very welcome. This must include a clear focus on closing the attainment gap for pupils with additional support needs, including blind and partially sighted pupils.”