Scottish Budget 2021: what it means for families

The Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, has set out the Scottish Government’s budget plans for the year ahead.

This has been a challenging year for families across Scotland with COVID presenting unprecedented challenges for many households. Unprecedented challenges require unprecedented support, and our budget does just that.

It’s a budget that secures a significant cash boost for the NHS, more investment in local public services and further financial support for families. The SNP will use the powers we have to provide support for the most vulnerable families, throughout this pandemic and beyond.

A social security system there for all who need it

    • We will use our social security powers to tackle child poverty by investing £68 million in the “game-changing” Scottish child payment which begins rolling out in February 2021.
    • We’ll invest £3.5 billion across all social security and welfare payments such as the Best Start Grant and the Best Start Foods payments scheme. Combined these payments provide over £5,200 of financial support for low-income families by the time their first child turns six and over £4,900 for every child after that.
    • We will, in conjunction with local authority partners, invest at least £6 million to deliver a school clothing grant worth at least £100 to every eligible child.
    • We will continue to provide free school meals to all Primary 1 to 3 children in school with an investment of £53 million.
    • We will continue to protect families from Westminster cuts by investing £118 million to mitigate the worst impacts of austerity, including £71 million to mitigate the UK Government’s bedroom tax.

Lifting families out of poverty with the power of education

    • Our budget recognises that alongside our immediate efforts to lift more families out of poverty, we know that education is the single most significant way to break deep and long-standing structural inequality. In this budget, we will invest £2.7 billion in education training and skills.
    • To complete our commitment to expand free early learning and childcare to 1140 hours a week for all three- and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds we will invest a further £59 million taking our total investment to £567 million.
    • We will invest over £30 million to support our schools to mitigate COVID’s impact on the learning experiences.
    • To support the little ones in our families fulfil their potential, we will invest an additional £125 million to help close the attainment gap taking our total investment in the Scottish attainment challenge to over £750 million during the last five years.
    • Access to university will continue to be based on ability to learn, not ability to pay. There will be no tuition fees with the SNP, and this year we will invest £1.9 billion in our world-class colleges and universities. 
    • We will invest a further £30 million to support Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships’ continuation and support our college’s digital learning and mental health programmes for staff and students.
    • We will continue to provide care experienced young people with an enhanced bursary in further and higher education.

Investing the health and care of our families

    • We will increase health spending by over £800 million, increasing the annual health resource budget to over £16 billion, far exceeding our manifesto commitment on health, mental health and social care.
    • We will invest an additional £72.6 million in social care with £34 million being used to allow care providers to pay the living wage.
    • We will invest £1.1 billion in Scotland’s mental health services including making £15 million available to support the continued establishment of local mental health services.
    • This budget introduces funding to support our national mission to end the public health emergency on drugs and alcohol misuse. We’re investing £145.3 million, with £61 million specifically to support reducing drug deaths. Too many families have lost a loved one to this crisis, and we will do all we can to help individuals, their families and their communities.

Tackling the cost of living

  • All Scottish taxpayers will pay less income tax than last year as income tax rates will be unchanged by the budget with 54% Scots continuing to pay less tax than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.
  • To help keep incomes secure in these challenging times we will invest £90 million to deliver a council tax freeze.
  • We will not follow the UK government by imposing a damaging public sector pay freeze instead we will deliver a public sector pay rise of 3% for those earning up to £25,000, with those earning above £80,000 receiving a 1% pay rise.
  • To support family-run businesses, we will continue to provide support through the Small Business Bonus Scheme which lifts 117,000 businesses out of rates altogether.
  • We will also take the unprecedented step of reducing business rates to 2019-20 levels saving Scottish businesses £120 million.