Scottish Budget 2021 to 2022

The Scottish Budget sets out the Scottish Government’s proposed spending and tax plans for 2021 to 2022, as presented to the Scottish Parliament.

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Annex F Scottish Government Operating Costs


The total operating costs for the Scottish Government are aligned with the portfolio budget that they support. The total operating costs for a portfolio are all the core Scottish Government staff and associated operating costs incurred directly by the portfolio, plus a share of the costs, such as accommodation, IT, legal services and HR, that cannot be readily attributed to individual portfolios. The budget for corporate capital projects is allocated entirely to the Finance portfolio.

Through the operating costs budget, we will ensure that the organisation has the capacity and capability to support the functions of government and the delivery of the priority outcomes and objectives set by Ministers and the people of Scotland.

The change in presentation to operating costs budgets was introduced in 2019-20 and described in detail in Annex G of Scottish Budget 2019-20, which also set out modelled estimates for an equivalent operating costs budget for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. In 2018-19 and earlier years staffing costs were met from both individual portfolio budgets and the Administration budget.

Scottish Government workforce

In recent years, the Scottish Government has evolved from a predominantly spending organisation into one with a wider set of fiscal powers, both raising its own revenues through a range of devolved taxes and delivering public services in wider areas such as social security.

Scottish Government workforce numbers have been growing, reflecting the changing nature of the Scottish Government's business, the addition of new powers and responsibilities and preparing for, and addressing the practical implications of, EU Exit. More recently, the Scottish Government workforce has responded to the impact of COVID-19, setting up a range of new functions. Workforce numbers are regularly published as part of the Scottish Government Workforce Information publication.

A significant driver of increases in operating costs are these increases in the Scottish Government workforce, together with associated support for critical systems and infrastructure.

Scottish Government operating costs

The total operating costs budget for the Scottish Government in 2021-22 is £604.1 million. This represents 1.1 per cent of the overall Scottish Budget (as measured by Total Managed Expenditure).

Portfolio total operating costs are summarised in Table F.01.

Table F.01: Total Operating Costs by Portfolio
Portfolio 2019-20 Budget 2020-21 Budget 2021-22 Budget
£m £m(1) £m(2)
Health and Sport 53.9 64.7 84.7
Communities and Local Government 35.8 40.2 42.7
Finance 59.1 61.4 66.4
Education and Skills 37.3 41.4 43.6
Justice 27.5 30.1 31.7
Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity 10.6 10.3 14.3
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform 63.3 70.1 83.5
Rural Economy and Tourism 89.0 95.4 102.0
Constitution, Europe and External Affairs 19.9 21.9 26.8
Social Security and Older People(3) 68.1 61.4 62.4
Economy, Fair Work and Culture 43.3 45.1 45.9
Total 507.8 541.9 604.1

(1) The forthcoming Spring Budget Revision for 2020-21 will propose increases to the operating costs budget for 2020‑21. The main drivers are staff growth resulting from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in the Corporate Running Cost budget and a correction to the CEEA operating costs budget (which inadvertently excluded £3 million in Scottish Budget 2020-21).

(2) The ECCLR operating costs budget for 2021-22 includes a transfer of budget from UK Government for income that had previously been directly received from the EU and which was used to offset staffing costs. This adjustment accounts for a £3 million increase in the 2021-22 ECCLR operating costs budget from that of preceding years.

(3) The operating costs budget for the SSOP portfolio is not directly comparable year-on-year as, for example, it reflects the transfer of some functions to Social Security Scotland.



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