8. Consultation responses from parliamentary committees
Three Scottish parliamentary committees responded to the consultation: the Finance and Public Administration Committee, the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, and the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee. Given the detailed nature of the Committee responses and their role in scrutiny, we have presented an analysis of their responses in this separate section.
The Finance and Public Administration Committee, carried out its own short, focussed inquiry running parallel to the Scottish Government's call for views, and received 15 responses.
The Committee thought that the Spending Review would provide "a real opportunity to take a fresh look at funding priorities for the lifetime of this Parliament and to refocus spending on those areas that can make most difference to those most in need."
The Committee said that many of their witnesses were largely content with the three core priorities, though some commented on their breadth and wide-ranging nature. Overall the Committee supported the Scottish Government's plans to publish multi-year spending plans.
The Committee sought some reassurance on a number of issues including:
- Consideration as to whether the Scottish Government's COVID-19 recovery should feature more prominently;
- Ensuring there is sufficient detail on net zero plans;
- Robust data, evidence and analysis to support spending decisions, including a review of the effectiveness of previous spending;
- Detail on how success will be measured against the core priorities;
- Analysis of the demographic challenges, and scope to tackle them;
- Greater emphasis on prevention and public service reform, and information on how policies are assessed for preventative impact; and,
- Closer alignment of the National Performance Framework outcomes with the Budget, the Medium-Term Financial Strategy, and spending reviews.
The Social Justice and Social Security Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, and acknowledged that there are many factors which make it difficult to project forward both funding and spending pressures over the period to 2026-27. It also set out some expectations from the spending review, including the inclusion of the sum total of spend that is committed to tackling child poverty over the review period, as well as what spending in this priority area means for spend elsewhere or where difficult choices are having to be made.
On prevention, the Committee said it would like to see reference to more explicit analysis in the document or at a minimum, the mechanism to be used to monitor or evaluate prevention, particularly in relation to the child poverty priority.
The Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee focused on the contribution which culture can make to health and wellbeing as part of the management of fiscal risk, and welcomed the emphasis on delivering the Christie principles.
The Committee set out a number of ways in which culture could be embedded across government portfolios, and welcomed the developing cross-government collaboration on culture and health and wellbeing. The Committee welcomed the aim to redirect funding towards demonstrable preventative approaches, and thought this should include "a more systemic approach to multi-year funding of scalable culture projects supporting health and wellbeing". The Committee also suggested that there should be a reappraisal of what is considered as health spending, for example, taking account of the preventative impact of spend the arts and other cultural activities.
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