Scottish Budget 2024 to 2025: equality and fairer Scotland statement

Assesses where the Scottish Government is proposing to spend public money and how it aims to reduce inequality. It is a supporting document to the Scottish Budget and should be read alongside associated Budget publications.

Executive Summary of EFSBS


The Scottish Budget in 2024-25 is £59.7 billion (including annually managed expenditure). Most of this funding is provided to public bodies, with health and local government being the two largest areas of spend.

The cost of living crisis presents serious economic and social challenges for Scotland and the UK in 2024-25, and we know it is affecting particular households, services and sectors of the economy very differently. The Scottish Government has made a positive choice in this Budget to tackle poverty and inequality. An additional £1 billion will be invested in Social Security in 2024-25, bringing the total we will invest to around £6.3 billion.

Published separately to this document is a distributional analysis, modelling the impact of tax and social security decisions. This analysis shows that:

  • The Scottish tax and social security system is progressive; and remains more progressive than the system in the rest of the UK.
  • Scottish tax policy decisions taken in this Budget – including both Income Tax policy changes and the freeze in Council Tax – provide a net benefit to around 60 per cent of Scottish households, with 79 per cent of households paying no more tax as a result of these measures.
  • The impact of Income Tax policy changes principally falls on the highest earning 20 per cent of households, with the top ten per cent paying an average of one per cent (£1,041) more in Income Tax each year.

What is in the Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement this year?

The Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement looks at the impact the Scottish Budget might have on people in Scotland. The Budget is complex and interconnected, and assessing the potential impacts on equality and socioeconomic characteristics (and all their intersections) is a major challenge.

  • The foundation for the EFSBS document is a detailed analysis, portfolio by portfolio, looking at some of the key fairness and equality issues and the role the Budget plays in tackling those issues (see Annex B). From these detailed analyses are drawn the brief summaries in the main document (by portfolio and characteristics).
  • The portfolio-by-portfolio analysis (in Annex B) outlines how equalities and fairness evidence has fed into decision making for budgets, but in order to help explain the process in more depth, for this EFSBS, we have used a case study approach. It should be noted that for policy decisions arising from the Budget, individual equality and Fairer Scotland impact assessments will be produced.
  • For the case studies, we have selected a range of budget lines, from different portfolios, of different scales and different types. We have then answered the “six key questions” set out in the guidance we have previously developed in collaboration with the Equality and Human Rights Budget Advisory Group. Our case studies look at the budgets for:
    • Alcohol and Drugs Policy
    • Primary Care Dental Services
    • Early Learning and Childcare
    • Social Security
    • Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights Directorate
    • Concessionary Fares
    • Employability
    • Scottish National Investment Bank

What does the Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement tell us?

  • The Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement provides a descriptive analysis. Inherently, the impacts of budget decisions on equality are varied, complex, wide ranging and interconnecting. This array of evidence is difficult to summarise, beyond the summaries already featured in the following chapters.
  • The Budget itself is one link in the policy chain. Ultimately, how the money is spent will determine its impact.
  • Notably, the EFSBS does show that many budget measures simultaneously tackle different types of inequality and unfairness – such as ‘Best Start Foods’, or funding for ‘Discretionary Housing Payments’.
  • A range of measures particularly tackle low incomes (and their intersections with equality), including, for example, through the social security system and through funding fair pay deals.
  • Examples of other measures supporting protected characteristics to varying degrees include: funding for concessionary fares, support for childcare, the reintroduction of the ‘Independent Living Fund’, and funding to organisations through the ‘Equality and Human Rights Fund’.
  • The case studies look in more depth at the areas listed above. Each case study demonstrates how evidence on socioeconomic impacts and protected characteristics have been considered within the budget process.
  • Finally, the budget process was strengthened this year through preliminary consideration of the impact of proposals in the ‘Programme for Government’, the use of a Ministerial workshop on the EFSBS, and also through requirements for portfolios to consider equality and fairness in the formal budget assurance process.



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