Fiscal framework: agreement between the Scottish and UK Governments

The agreement between the Scottish Government and the United Kingdom government on the Scottish Government's fiscal framework.

Annex D: Joint Exchequer Committee (Scotland) - Terms of Reference (2015)

1. The Scottish and United Kingdom Governments established a Joint Exchequer Committee (JEC) in 2011 in the context of the Scotland Act 2012. These Terms of Reference reflect the Smith Commission Agreement and its proceeding implementation in the Scotland Act 2016 and Fiscal Framework.


2. The JEC is the intergovernmental ministerial forum to discuss financial and fiscal matters relating to the Scotland Act 2016 and accompanying Fiscal Framework.

3. The JEC will discuss implementation of the relevant aspects of the Scotland Act 2016 and Fiscal Framework. The JEC may also discuss any other issues arising which Ministers from either Government refer to the JEC

4. The JEC will continue discussions on final implementation of the Scotland Act 2012.

5. The JEC will oversee and provide assurance to individual projects tasked with implementing individual elements.


6. The JEC will consider evidence and options and where appropriate make decisions in the following areas:

a. Issues where the Scottish and UK Governments need to reach agreement in order to implement specific elements of the Fiscal Framework or the Scotland Acts 2012 and 2016.
b. The process agreed by Ministers to address "spill over effects" as in paragraphs 44-53 of the Fiscal Framework agreement.
c. The timetable for implementation of the Fiscal Framework and tax elements of the Scotland Acts 2012 and 2016.
d. The fiscal issues associated with the implementation of the welfare elements of the Scotland Act 2016.
e. How best to share data and information between the Scottish and UK Governments to assist implementation and any agreements needed between the two Governments to do this.
f. Oversight of borrowing powers set out in the Scotland Acts 2012 and 2016 and agreed under the Fiscal Framework.
g. Oversight of additional budgetary flexibilities agreed under the Fiscal Framework.
h. Determining how delivery bodies are accountable to the relevant parliaments.
i. Proposals under Clause 28 of the Scotland Act 2012 to create additional devolved taxes.
j. Auditing arrangements with respect to the operation of this fiscal framework and the Scotland Act 2016.
k. The process, scope, terms of reference and implications when reviewing the Fiscal Framework.
l. Other bilateral financial and fiscal issues between the two Governments that require discussion.

Membership and Meetings

7. The JEC will be made up of Ministers from the UK and Scottish Governments. Ordinarily, these would be the Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Scottish Government and relevant Ministers from the (UK) HM Treasury (currently the Chief Secretary and Financial Secretary). Officials may attend the JEC with and with consent of their respective Minister.

8. The JEC will be supported by an Officials Group made up of an equal number of officials from the Scottish and UK Governments. The JEC may decide to establish other groups to support it, as it sees necessary.

9. The JEC will meet at least twice a year. The JEC may decide to meet more often, especially in the first years of implementation. The JEC can decide to meet only one or not at all in a given year, but only by written agreement between the parties.

10. The Chair of the meeting should alternate between Ministers from the UK and Scottish Governments, starting with the Scottish Government Minister.

11. The agenda for each meeting is to be agreed between Scottish and UK Government officials prior to the meeting. Ordinarily, the agenda will be agreed and circulated with any papers no more than 3 working days prior to the meeting.

12. Minutes will be written of each meeting, ordinarily by officials from the Government of the Minister chairing the meeting.

13. The meeting will ordinarily take place at a location selected by the Chair. The JEC is able to decide to meet virtually (for example by video-conference or online) where appropriate.

14. All efforts will be made to reduce the cost and environmental impact of JEC meetings, to both Governments.

Decision making

15. Decisions are to be reached jointly by Ministers of both Governments. A decision of the JEC is one which has been agreed by both Government Ministers. Decisions on issues described in these Terms of Reference as falling within the scope of the JEC may not be taken by any other mechanism than the JEC, nor taken forward without the agreement of both the Scottish and UK Governments.


16. After each JEC meeting, a Communiqué will be agreed by both Ministers. This will be published online on both Governments' websites and made available to both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

17. These Terms of Reference will be published online.

18. The discussions at each meeting, the agenda, the minutes and any papers are to be confidential to the UK and Scottish Governments, unless the JEC specifically decides otherwise. Each Government will respect this confidentiality.

Dispute Resolution

19. All efforts will be made to reach agreement at the JEC. Where a dispute arises the dispute resolution procedure set out in the fiscal framework will be used.

20. Prior to referring any matter for consideration under the dispute resolution procedures, every effort will have been made to achieve early and bilateral resolution.


21. These Terms of Reference can be amended, re-written or supplemented as agreed by JEC members.


Back to top