Scottish Budget 2020-2021

Sets out our proposed spending and tax plans for 2020 to 2021, as presented to the Scottish Parliament.

This document is part of a collection

Chapter 15: Government Business and Constitutional Relations

Portfolio Responsibilities

The Government Business and Constitutional Relations portfolio has a crucial role in seeking to ensure UK-EU negotiations, and necessary preparations for the UK's exit from the EU, are undertaken in a way that protects Scotland's interests and mitigates the damaging effects of EU exit as far as it is possible to do so.

The portfolio is responsible for the Scottish Government's constitutional policy, including: reviewing inter-governmental relations for a post EU exit; developments on UK frameworks and internal markets; defending and extending the devolution settlement; and consideration of Scotland's future including refreshing the case for independence. The portfolio is also sponsoring the Citizens' Assembly of Scotland.

This portfolio is responsible for the management of the Scottish Government's legislative programme and business in Parliament, for policy on Freedom of Information and open government, and for certain Royal and ceremonial activities within Scotland.

The portfolio covers Scottish Parliament and local government elections, leads on social research undertaken throughout Scottish Government to support policy development, and leads on delivering the Scottish Government's commitment to support the Armed Forces and Veterans community in Scotland.

We support the effective conduct of government business which has a positive contribution to all outcomes in the National Performance Framework, and particularly contribute to Scotland being connected and making a positive contribution internationally.

Portfolio Priorities

In 2020-21 we will:

  • engage in negotiations and support the necessary preparation on the UK's future relationship with the EU, seeking to protect and promote Scottish interests, and to develop opportunities for Scotland to continue to collaborate with EU partners;
  • develop and disseminate detailed information on the case for independence and continue to prepare for a referendum which would give Scotland the opportunity to choose its constitutional future, as demanded in the December 2019 election and at previous polls;
  • continue to pursue our ambition for a society founded on fairness and equality through our democratic frameworks, modernising the approach to Scottish parliamentary and local elections, including provision for foreign nationals who live in Scotland to vote;
  • sponsor the Citizens' Assembly of Scotland, including preparing for the publication of the Assembly's recommendations on Scotland's constitutional future, the Scottish Parliament's consideration of these recommendations, and the Scottish Government's response;
  • work towards our ambition to be an open and connected government through work to extend coverage of Freedom of Information and delivering Scotland's Open Government Action Plans, and make a positive contribution internationally through our membership of the Open Government Partnership;
  • work across the Scottish Government to respond to the recommendations of the Scottish Veterans Commissioner's reports and progress the UK-wide 'Strategy for our Veterans', responding to the consultation with stakeholders in Scotland through an implementation plan, to ensure that there is no disadvantage for the armed forces, veterans and their families when accessing services and support - we will maintain funding for the Scottish Veterans Commissioner to challenge and scrutinise policy delivery, and continue to support veterans charities and organisations, primarily through the Scottish Veterans Fund;
  • sponsor the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland which will review the ward boundaries in the local authority areas which include islands, as required by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018; and
  • lead the development and provision of social research and analysis to improve policy making and implementation focusing on cross-cutting and topical issues.

Spending Plans

Table 15.01: Spending Plans (Level 2)

Level 2 2018-19
Government Business and Constitutional Relations 2.4 12.1 16.1
Total Government Business and Constitutional Relations 2.4 12.1 16.1
of which:
Total Fiscal Resource 2.4 12.1 16.1
of which Operating Costs* - 9.9 11.1
Non-cash - - -
Capital - - -
Financial Transactions - - -
UK Funded AME - - -
Total Limit on Income (accruing resources) -

* Scottish Government operating costs have been presented in this way within portfolio budgets since 2019-20.

What the Government Business and Constitutional Relations budget does

  • Supports the provision of social research and analysis to improve policy development and implementation.
  • Covers Royal and ceremonial events and tasks within Scotland.
  • Supports the delivery of elections and the Electoral Management Board.
  • Supports the provision of guidance to implement the Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020.
  • Provides funding for the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland.
  • Provides for extending the coverage of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
  • Supports the Scottish Veterans Fund and Veterans Scotland.
  • Supports the Citizens' Assembly of Scotland.
  • Supports the work of the portfolio on EU exit, Cabinet business, Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections, Freedom of Information, the Government's legislative programme, Royal and ceremonial activity, inter-governmental relations, and policy on devolution, post-EU exit arrangements and the case for independence.

Table 15.02: Government Business Spending Plans (Level 3)

Level 3 2018-19
Office of the Chief Researcher 0.8 0.6 0.5
Royal and Ceremonial 0.6 0.4 0.4
Local Government Elections 0.4 0.4 2.1
Boundary Commission 0.4 0.5 0.4
Scottish Parliamentary Elections 0.2 0.2 1.0
Extension of Freedom of Information Coverage - 0.1 0.1
Referendums Act Implementation - - 0.1
Citizens' Assembly - - 0.2
Veterans* - - 0.2
Government Business and Constitutional Relations Policy and Co-ordination - 9.9 11.1
Total Government Business and Constitutional Relations 2.4 12.1 16.1
of which:
Fiscal Resource 2.4 12.1 16.1
Non-cash - - -
Capital - - -
Financial Transactions - - -
UK Funded AME - - -

* Veterans budget was previously held in Justice portfolio.

Contribution to National Outcomes

This table summarises the portfolio's contributions to the Outcomes of the National Performance Framework.

Table 15.03: National Outcome

The GBCR Portfolio Budget supports delivery across all 11 National Outcomes. Through its Priorities the work makes a particular contribution to the following National Outcomes:


Primary National Outcome: Communities

The Electoral Management Board for Scotland (EMB) has a key role in delivering electoral events in Scotland. Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers drawn from across the country lead and support their colleagues to co‑ordinate elections and referendums to give results in which the voter can have full confidence. The Board empowers communities by putting the voter first in every aspect of elections. The Board is working in partnership with the Scottish Government and local communities and stakeholders to remove barriers and improve accessibility to voting. Work is progressing to improve the experience of people with sight loss.

Local Government Boundary Commission

Primary National Outcome: Communities

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland is responsible for carrying out reviews of:

  • the boundaries of local authority areas;
  • carrying out reviews of electoral wards for local authorities;
  • responding to requests for reviews of electoral wards or local authority areas; and
  • carrying out reviews of constituencies and regions for the Scottish Parliament.

On 14 January 2019 the Commission announced the commencement of its reviews of electoral arrangements for the six council areas specified in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018.

These are Argyll and Bute Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland Council, North Ayrshire Council, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council.

The review process empowers communities to have a say in, and influence over, the electoral arrangements which affect them. The introduction of one and two member wards in the Islands (Scotland) Act provides more flexibility to meet the needs of communities - previously only three or four member wards were permitted.

Royal and Ceremonial Events and Tasks Within Scotland

Primary National Outcome: Communities

Secondary National Outcomes: Culture, Economy, international

The work with the Royal Households, the Lord Lyon, Lord-Lieutenants and through the promotion of the honours system will ensure that Scotland's reputation for diversity and inclusivity continues to grow. It will help to recognise the contribution made by individuals in all parts of Scotland.

Scottish Veterans Fund and Veterans Scotland

Primary National Outcome: Communities

Secondary National Outcomes: Education, Health, Economy

The Scottish Veterans Fund administered by Veterans Scotland will grant support projects that include one or more of the following for veterans and their families:

  • support access to health and social care; housing; employment; skills and education; financial advice or other public and third sector services;
  • support meaningful inclusion in civilian life including promoting positive health and wellbeing and aiding social integration;
  • support successful transition to civilian life following Service; and/or
  • raise awareness of veterans and their families amongst the general public, emphasising their positive contribution to society and local communities.

Provision of Social Research Throughout the Scottish Government

Primary National Outcome: Communities

Secondary National Outcomes: Children and Young People, Poverty, Education

Social research informs the delivery of all national Performance outcomes. It supports this work through the recruitment, development and promotion of social researchers, the development and dissemination of new methods and policies, the provision of advice and guidance about social research.



Back to top