To inform the development of the Scottish Government's first Resource Spending Review (RSR) in over a decade, a consultation was launched on 9 December 2021. The associated paper, Investing in Scotland's Future: Resource Spending Review Framework (the Framework), invited stakeholders to provide views on the future of Scotland's public finances.
The Framework provided information in line with the requirements of the Budget Process Session 6 Written Agreement between Scottish Government and the Finance and Public Administration Committee. It set out the economic, fiscal and political context for the multi-year spending review, the criteria which govern the assessment of budgets, and the process and timetable for review.
The Framework opened a public consultation which asked six questions covering:
- the Government's suggested priorities for the spending review;
- the drivers of public spending;
- opportunities to maximise the impact of the public sector workforce;
- opportunities to achieve the best value for citizens from limited funds;
- equalities and human rights impacts; and
- future public engagement around Scotland's public finances.
The consultation closed on 27 March 2022 and received 72 responses. Of those, 15 were from individuals and 57 were from organisations. The majority of consultation responses were received through the Citizen Space consultation platform, with a small number submitted via email. A list of organisational respondents and a link to the responses can be found in Annex A.
In addition to the consultation, the Scottish Government also undertook a programme of external engagement to hear the views of a range of stakeholders. A total of six sessions were held over March, April and May 2022. These allowed participants to be part of an open dialogue with Scottish Ministers where they could express their views on the RSR. The key points from these discussions were captured in succinct notes, agreed with participants, which can be found in Annexes B-G.
Scottish Ministers would like to express their sincere thanks to those that submitted a response to the consultation and to those who participated in our programme of external engagement.
The responses to the consultation have informed the outcomes of the RSR and development of the plans detailed within that publication. In addition to this, the responses will be used to inform the next steps and reform options outlined in the spending review.
The findings of the consultation will also be used to inform the work that the Scottish Government, especially Director General Scottish Exchequer, is taking forward to improve transparency and participation in public finances (including in relation to our Open Government Action Plan). This will include an evaluation of the consultation process, the findings of which will be used to improve public participation in future budgets and spending reviews.
We have summarised some of the key findings from our analysis below. More detailed analysis is available in the remainder of this document.
1. Respondents generally agreed with the priorities outlined in the Framework, while some also made suggestions for additional priorities or specific focuses within the priorities.
2. Respondents generally agreed with the drivers of public spending listed in the Framework, and a number of respondents recommended the inclusion of other drivers of public spending, with an emphasis on climate adaptation and mitigation.
3. Respondents' suggestions on how policy interventions can be used to maximise the value achieved from the public sector workforce spanned several aspects with most suggestions focused on investment and financing, the third sector, workforce remuneration, recruitment, retention, training and development.
4. Respondents broadly agreed with the Framework's proposed approaches to maximise the positive impact of Scotland's public spending. Respondents also suggested further approaches centred around policy decisions, administrative actions, financial steps, and issues relating to mental health, and technology, among other issues.
5. Respondents supported the decision to conduct an equality assessment of the spending review's findings, and provided their views on equality and human rights impacts centred around spending, including on mental health, gender equality, alcohol use, science, and education, among other issues.
6. Views on how best to continue the engagement featured a number of recurring themes including improving the timing for consultations, including lived experiences in decision making, and the need for diversity of views and deeper levels of engagement.
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