by the Deputy First Minister
The Scottish Government Budget for 2023-24 takes place in the most turbulent economic and financial context most people can remember. The cumulative effect of war in Europe, surging energy prices, raging inflation, damage to labour supply and trade due to Brexit, along with the spectacular financial mismanagement of the UK Government, creates the most difficult set of conditions in which to set a Budget. At no stage since the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 have the conditions been more volatile and the dangers more severe.
That context presents a difficult set of choices for the Scottish Government. At the heart of that debate – albeit within the constraints we face – is whether to invest or to scale back.
We have chosen not to follow the path of austerity that has been the hallmark of the current United Kingdom Government.
We want to create a Scotland that can eradicate child poverty, enable our economy to transition to Net Zero and create sustainable public services that support the needs of our people. The Scottish Government has chosen to invest.
The limited powers we won after the Independence Referendum in 2014 enable Scotland to make some different choices on tax. This Scottish Government has made use of those powers in the past, generating many millions more to invest in Scotland than if we had followed UK tax decisions.
In this Budget we use those tax powers again, asking people on higher incomes to contribute more in taxation than those on lower incomes, but with the majority of people in Scotland still paying less in taxation than if they lived in the rest of the United Kingdom and everyone enjoying the benefits of strong public services and a comprehensive social contract.
These decisions mean that we have been able to go well beyond our previous commitment on health and social care - to pass on all frontline consequentials - and deliver a £1 billion uplift to the health budget.
In this Budget we set out how we will, in pursuing the Bute House Agreement, use all of the resources available to us, to create a Scotland that tackles inequality, fulfils our obligations to safeguard the planet and invests in the health, education and justice services that will serve our people well in these tough times.
In formulating this Budget, we have listened to the views of other political parties, of business, trades unions, the third sector and many other stakeholders.
We believe we have made the correct choices to safeguard Scotland in these difficult days and we look forward to engaging with Parliament in the scrutiny of the Budget in the weeks to come.
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister
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