The Scottish budget: what you need to know

Kate Forbes, the Finance Secretary, has reached an agreement with the Scottish Greens to pass our budget plans for the next year.

While Westminster continues to obsess with Brexit, fails to recognise the climate crisis and delivers regressive policies that hurt the most vulnerable in our society, we are choosing a different path for Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s budget will boost support for young people, continue our world leading action on Climate Change, properly fund our vital police services, lift 30,000 children out of poverty and much more.

Here’s what you need to know.

Record £15 billion investment in our NHS and expanding childcare provision

After a decade of Conservative governments at Westminster, Scotland’s budget has faced more cuts and suffered from the reckless hostile environment created towards migrants wanting to work and contribute to Scotland’s economy.

However, by choosing a fairer path on taxation, the Scottish Government will continue protect Scotland’s cherished public services and invest in Scotland’s people.

Our budget will ensure:

  • an over 4% increase, £454 million, to frontline NHS Boards funding;

  • more than £200 million investment in the Baird and Anchor Hospital, helping to deliver a new family hospital and care centre for Aberdeen
  • £117 million investment in mental health services for all ages and stages of life;
  • an additional £12.7 million investment in ensuring we tackle the harm associated with the use of illicit drugs and alcohol;

  • £180 million to continue with our commitment to closing the attainment gap in schools; and

  • an investment of over half of a billion, £645 million, in our planned expansion of childcare and early years education.

56 per cent of income taxpayers in Scotland are the lowest taxed in the whole UK

Unlike the Westminster government, under the SNP we delivered the most progressive income tax system in the United Kingdom. Under this progressive approach, we have been able to raise additional revenue and invest that money into our first class public services.

But as well as investing in our public services, our system ensures that those with the broadest financial shoulders bear the largest burden. Meaning that while for some taxes are higher, for the majority of Scottish taxpayers, 56%, they will pay less than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.

We’re building an inclusive economy, tackling poverty and leading the world on climate action

In Scotland we recognise the need to build a wellbeing economy, that not only focuses on building economic growth but recognises that the health and wellbeing of people’s lives are just as important. The quality of life of people in Scotland have must be equal to GDP growth.

To build on that quality of life in Scotland, this budget will:

  • introduce the Scottish Child Payment, which when fully rolled out will help 30,000 children out of poverty;
  • invest £3.4 billion in ensuring that fairness, dignity and respect is at the heart of Scotland’s social security system;
  • invest £20 million for peatland restoration with a commitment to invest more than £250 million over ten years;
  • create a £120 million new Heat Transition Deal and invest a total of £151 million in energy efficiency;
  • £64 million to support Scotland’s commitment to plant 12,000 hectares of trees; and
  • give a three per cent pay uplift for public sector workers earning up to £80,000.

New investment to ensure Scotland is the best place to do business and invest

Despite the UK government’s delays in announcing their budget and the unknown effects the UK government’s hardline Brexit will have on Scotland’s economy, we are committed to ensuring Scotland is the best place in the UK to do business and invest.

To help grow our economy we will:

  • maintain the residential land and building transaction tax rates and bands at their current level providing certainty for taxpayers;
  • maintain the most generous non-domestic rates regime in the UK, ensuring more than 95% of properties are subject to lower poundage than they would face in other parts of the UK;
  • provide an additional £16 million of support for the National Manufacturing Institute;
  • invest £40 million for an Agricultural Transformation Programme;
  • maintain our commitment to Scotland’s city deals; and
  • invest £220 million of seed funding for the Scottish National Investment Bank to support its mission to drive the transition to a net-zero economy

Investing in Scotland’s transport services and empowering people through active travel

While many powers relating to Scotland’s transport network remain reserved to Westminster, we are committed to delivering the best transport network possible in Scotland.

To strengthen Scotland transport network, this budget will:

  • deliver a National Concessionary Travel scheme offering free bus travel for under 18s, with the aim to introduce the scheme in January 2021;
  • invest £270 million in Scotland’s rail services;
  • additional investment of £25 million in local government energy efficiency measures to tackle fuel poverty;
  • maintain Scotland’s concessionary travel bus travel and invest an extra £16 million bringing our total investment in rail and bus services to around £1.55 billion; and
  • £15 million for local authority investment in active travel, taking our total investment in active transport to £100 million in the next financial.

Investing in our police and keeping Scotland safe

Since the SNP can into office, recorded crime has fallen by 42 per cent in Scotland and is at one of the lowest rates in over 40 years. While violent and property crime also both down over 40 per cent, we are committed to investing in our police services to keep Scotland safe.

To keep Scotland safe, this budget will:

  • ensure a total uplift of £60 million invested into our police service, with £13 million of additional investment in frontline services;
  • invest an additional £6.5 million to support community justice to reduce re-offending; and
  • provide capital funding of nearly £70 million for the prisons estate, including a replacement for HMP Barlinnie.