Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy
I am pleased to launch our Resource Spending Review today with the publication of the Framework.
The Framework begins a national conversation about how we create the conditions for our citizens, businesses and third sector to thrive. Our mission is to deliver effective services for the people of Scotland today and maintain sustainable public finances that ensure we can meet the needs of future generations too. It is vital that we understand and reflect opinions of the people public services exist for, and the experience of those who help us deliver them. This is a real opportunity for stakeholders to influence the future of Scotland’s spending priorities and to ensure that the Scottish Government delivers for the people of Scotland.
In Scotland today, public spending is one of the most important levers that this government can pull to deliver for its citizens. Our choices about how we allocate the funding available to us reflect our priorities – ranging from what a social security system looks like and who it supports, to how our hospitals function and how many teachers are in our classrooms.
The decisions we make need to prepare us for a period of social, economic and constitutional change. We face growing demand for public services due to the impact of COVID-19 on society. We have a moral and statutory duty to act to combat the global climate emergency, whose impacts we already see. And we must invest now to adapt our public services to better support an ageing population.
These will be tough decisions to take. Our already tight budgetary envelope has been made even more challenging by the UK Government’s decision to end COVID-19 funding as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review, at a time when the virus remains a very present threat. We do not have the fiscal levers to adequately manage the financial risks that Scotland faces.
We will need to decide what we prioritise and how we deliver our services. There will certainly be opportunities to reform and invest in services to achieve improved outcomes in a more efficient way, but there may also be policies which require a rethink, and perhaps reprioritisation to better meet the needs of the people of Scotland now and in the future.
To do this effectively, we will focus on how we best use our resources to support transformational progress towards this government’s core priorities: to support progress towards meeting our child poverty targets, to address climate change, and, underpinning these, to secure a stronger, fairer, greener economy.
Our approach to this Resource Spending Review will be based on three principles, which will both shape our spending plans and inform our ongoing engagement throughout the parliamentary term.
Firstly, the Resource Spending Review will be outcomes focused, aiming to support positive outcomes for our citizens in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Secondly, we will be evidence-informed, drawing on the available evidence to underpin the decisions we take in May, but committed to improving our evidence base for future decisions too.
Thirdly, it will be consultative. We will engage widely, ensuring stakeholder views are listened to, and that ‘the conversation’ continues throughout and beyond the spending review period.
In May 2022, I will publish the findings of the Resource Spending Review which will outline resource spending plans to the end of this Parliament in 2026-27. Together with the Capital Spending Review which we published in 2021, it will give our public bodies and delivery partners greater financial certainty to help them rebuild from the pandemic and refocus their resources on our long-term priorities.
I look forward to engaging with as many of you as possible throughout this process and beyond to shape our public finances for a fairer, greener Scotland.