Scottish Budget 2021: what it means for young people

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

It’s a Budget that secures a major cash boost for the NHS, more investment in local public services and further financial support for families.

In unprecedented circumstances, and with one hand tied behind our back, the SNP is using its powers progressively to invest in Scotland’s future generations – while delivering for young people during these tough times.

Investment in education, training and skills

  • We’re committed to delivering the best life chances to everyone and investing in skills – with our education, training and skills budget worth £2.7 billion.
  • We’re investing over £30 million to support our schools to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on the learning experiences of our young people.
  • 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 5 years.
  • The £125 million Young Person’s Guarantee which will help to achieve our ambition of providing every young person with the opportunity to study, take up an apprenticeship, job, work experience or participate in formal volunteering.
  • We’re investing a further £230 million for Skills Development Scotland.
  • Supporting our economy to recover and grow sustainably, while delivering thousands of new green jobs, as we launch our £100 million Green Jobs Fund.

The best start for all of Scotland’s young people

  • 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’re investing a further £59 million taking our total investment to £567 million.
  • We’re fully using our social security powers to tackle child poverty by investing £68 million in the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment, with payments beginning in February 2021.
  • Our £3.5 billion social security and welfare budget ensures everybody is supported and nobody is left behind, with the fairest, most generous package anywhere in the UK – and payments such as Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods.
  • In conjunction with local authority partners, we’re investing at least £6 million to deliver a school clothing grant worth at least £100 for every eligible child.

Improving access to college and university

  • Access to university will continue to be based on ability to learn, not the ability to pay – there will never be tuition fees under the SNP, and this year we’re investing £1.9 billion in our world-class colleges and universities.
  • To ensure that students are provided with the financial support they need to succeed, we’re increasing the levels of support available to students – including over £328 million for higher education support.
  • We’re investing a further £30 million to support the continuation of Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships – and delivering further support in our colleges through mental health programmes for staff and students.
  • We will continue to provide care-experienced young people with an enhanced bursary in both further and higher education.

Investing in our health service

  • We’re increasing health spending by over £800 million, bringing the annual health resource budget to a record £16 billion – which far exceeds our manifesto commitment on health, mental health and social care.
  • We’re investing £1.1 billion in Scotland’s mental health services, including making £15 million available to support the continued establishment of local mental health services.

Tackling the cost of living

  • All Scottish taxpayers will pay less income tax compared to last year, as income tax rates remain unchanged in this Budget – with the majority of Scots continuing to pay less tax than if they lived elsewhere in the UK, while getting the best value for money from our public services.
  • To help keep incomes secure in these challenging times, we’re investing £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’re delivering a public sector pay rise of 3% for those earning up to £25,000, with those earning above £80,000 due to receive a 1% pay rise.
  • We’re continuing to mitigate the callous Tory bedroom tax and Westminster austerity cuts with a further £118 million of investment.