‘Supporting people most in need’: What’s in the Scottish Budget

The Budget (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 21st February 2023. This important Bill set out the public spending of the Scottish Government. Voting for the Budget were the SNP and Scottish Greens (68), voting against the Budget were the Tories, Labour and Lib/Dems (57).

No amendments were made to the Bill at Stage 2 or Stage 3.

This Budget will prioritise the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives of eradicating child poverty; transforming the economy to deliver a just transition to Net Zero; and providing sustainable public services.

Scottish Budget 2023 -24

Coming when many people are struggling with the cost of living and pay negotiations are taking place with public sector workers, how Scotland spends its money is a measure of its priorities, taking into account its limitations as a devolved government. Since 2021, the 2023‑24 Scottish block grant from the UK has reduced by 4.8% in real terms.

Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney described the Budget as a “social contract with every citizen of Scotland.

The economic and fiscal context of this Budget demands a response from Government that supports the most vulnerable and helps build a sustainable economy.

Scottish Budget 2023-24

£19billion – Health and Social Care an increase of over £1billion

£3 billion to help mitigate the cost of living crisis

£350 million for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme – 370,000 households will pay no council tax.

£4.6 billion for Net Zero, Energy and Transport 

 £467 million to protect the natural environment.

£6.6 million increase for Creative Scotland

The Scottish Government is committing substantial amounts to protect the people of Scotland from the impact of decisions and policies made by the UK Government. We are choosing a different, more progressive path for Scotland.

Scottish Budget 2023-24

The Scottish Child Payment increased to £25 per eligible child per week. A benefit only available in Scotland

Increased all other devolved benefits in April 2023 by September CPI (10.1 per cent) at a cost of £428 million.

£20 million to extend the Fuel Insecurity Fund into 2023‑24

£1 billion for early learning and childcare provision

£42 million for holiday food provision

£50 million for the whole family wellbeing programme for preventative, holistic, family support

£30 million to #KeepThePromise for care experienced children and young people.

£80 million of capital funding to support the expansion of free school meals.

Increased spending on concessionary travel schemes – over 2million Scots now eligible for free bus travel

£200 million annual investment in the Scottish Attainment Challenge

£244 million for the Scottish Investment Bank

£60 million Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Fund to expand Scotland’s EV charging

£197 million for active and sustainable travel

£15 million for a pilot project to explore the removal of peak time rail fares as part of a Fair Fares Review

£50 million for the Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray

£1.4+ billion to maintain, improve and decarbonise Scotland’s rail network

£366 million for Heat in Buildings Strategy in 2023‑24 

A freeze of the non‑domestic rates poundage

Support for the Small Business Bonus Scheme to remove 100,000 properties from rates altogether. 

£44 million for the National Test Programme, Agricultural Reform Programme and Agricultural Transformation Fund

An additional £122 million of capital investment in new vessels and upgraded infrastructure  for lifeline ferry services.

£26+ million for peatland restoration

£77+ million for woodland creation

£34 million for the Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund

£26 million for the Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund.

£13+ billion to NHS Boards

£2 billion to improve community care

£1.7 billion for social care and integration 

£100 million to support delivery of the £10.90 real living wage for adult social care

£160 million for public health emergencies and to reduce the avoidable harms associated with drugs and alcohol.

Total settlement for Local Government nearly £13.5 billion: includes,

  •  £550+ million of additional funding to the Local Government settlement
  • An additional £223 million to local authorities to support pay awards to staff

 £165 million for the Justice system

£40 million for on‑going COVID recovery funding

£2 million additional funding to support the costs of the COVID Inquiry.

People living in Scotland have access to a range of social security benefits and public services that goes significantly beyond what is provided in other parts of the UK

Scottish Budget 2023 -24

Scottish Income Tax Policy 2023‑24

BandIncome RangeRate
Starter Rate£12,571 – £14,732*19%
Basic Rate£14,733 – £25,68820%
Intermediate Rate£25,689 – £43,66221%
Higher Rate£43,663 – £125,14042%
Top RateAbove £125,140**47%

* Assumes individuals are in receipt of the Standard UK Personal Allowance

** Those earning more than £100,000 will see their Personal Allowance reduced by £1 for every £2 earned over £100,000

Commenting on the Scottish Budget, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“This Budget strengthens our social contract with every citizen of Scotland who will continue to enjoy many benefits not available throughout the UK.

“In one of the most challenging budgets since devolution, we are prioritising our limited resources to protect public services, invest in the transition to Net Zero and take decisive steps to eradicate child poverty in Scotland.

“Supporting people most in need in these difficult times is the foundation of this Budget. As a Government we are doing all we can to support people and families.

“We have chosen a distinctive, more progressive path where people are asked to pay their fair share to create the fairer society in which we all want to live. Progressive choices on Scottish Income Tax mean that next year this Government will deliver record funding of more than £19 billion for health and social care.

“While none of us should underestimate the scale of the ongoing financial challenges, I am confident that this Budget package offers stability and certainty for Scotland.”

image credit Noel Donaldson

Fiona Grahame

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