Balanced budget despite pandemic pressures

Funding allocated to boost recovery in 2021-22.

Despite unprecedented challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) the Scottish Budget was balanced last year.

The 2020-21 Provisional Budget Outturn shows 99% of the £48 billion budget was spent, meaning the Scottish Government has fulfilled its legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget. 

The remaining 1% will be carried over to 2021-22 to help support pandemic recovery, with every penny allocated in full. This will ensure the Scottish Government is able to implement measures in response to coronavirus at the most optimal time, rather than being constrained to a single financial year.

Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur said:

“The last year has brought unprecedented challenges to public spending in Scotland. We have made significant investment to protect communities, support health and social care services, including running the largest vaccination programme the country has ever seen, and over £3 billion in support for businesses. 

“Despite these challenges, strong financial management has enabled us to deliver a balanced budget whilst investing in the services and support required to help the country get through the pandemic.

“While managing demand-led support schemes and ongoing health demands, we are carrying forward less than 1% of the 2020-21 Scottish Budget, with every penny allocated to support recovery.

“The Scottish Government has repeatedly called on the UK Government to work with us to overhaul the fiscal framework which if reformed, would help us manage budget pressures and further prioritise investment in vital public services.”


Approximately £3 billion of the 2020-21 Scottish Budget was allocated to Health and wider public health COVID-19 initiatives.

The Scottish Government borrowed £207 million for resource expenditure to deliver services, in line with the original funding plan.

The 2020-21 budget carry forward is £449 million compared to £264 million in 2019-20. Health spending was responsible for £182 million of that and was a result of timing of health funding not being aligned to health spending, given the coronavirus response spans both financial years.


Media enquiries

Back to top