Small 2019-20 underspend helping COVID-19 response.
New figures show that prudent budget management is enabling the Scottish Government to maximise its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The 2019-20 Provisional Budget Outturn reveals a 0.7 per cent underspend on a total budget of £34.6 billion – down from 0.9 per cent the previous year - with all of the £258 million underspend carried forward and most having already been deployed.
Borrowing was £45 million less than originally planned and the £717 million collected from the Scottish Landfill Tax and the Land and Buildings Transactions Tax was the highest since the taxes were fully devolved, despite COVID-19 affecting revenues in March.
Commenting on the figures, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:
“The provisional outturn demonstrates that the Scottish Government spent more than 99 per cent of our budget in 2019-20 on the delivery of public services and supporting the economy.
“Our sensible financial management has provided us with additional flexibility to deal with the effects of COVID-19 and the sustained and damaging post-Brexit economic uncertainty.
“We will continue to maintain a firm grip on Scotland’s public finances and do all we can to protect Scotland’s economy and ensure that, as a country, we are back on our feet as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We have very limited room for manoeuvre within our budget, which is why I will continue to make the case to the UK Government for both an increase in funding and flexibility to allow the Scottish Government to respond fully to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Under the current devolution settlement the Scottish Parliament is not allowed to overspend and attempting to spend the exact amount contained in the budget carries a significant risk of breaching the Treasury’s budget cap.