Scottish Budget: 2023 to 2024

The Scottish Budget sets out the Scottish Government’s proposed spending and tax plans for 2023 to 2024, 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 and Economy 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.

Scottish Government workforce

The growth in Scottish Government workforce numbers reflects the changing nature of its business, the addition of new powers and responsibilities and addressing the practical implications of EU Exit. Since early 2020, the Scottish Government workforce has responded to the continuing impact of, and recovery from, COVID-19, setting up a range of new functions. More recently the Government has had to respond to the conflict in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis, as well as the establishment of ScotWind within our wider Net Zero commitments. These factors, alongside pay inflation, have driven the growth in our operating costs.

To support our aims of an efficient and effective workforce, the Scottish Government put enhanced recruitment controls in place in April 2022 to ensure the organisation continues to deploy its resources flexibly, with any required growth focused on priority areas.

Workforce numbers are regularly published as part of the Scottish Government Workforce Information publication.

Scottish Government operating costs

The total operating cost budget for the Scottish Government in 2023-24 is £696.1 million. This represents 1.2 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 2021-22 Budget 2022-23 Budget 2023-24 Budget
£m £m £m
Health and Social Care 85.1 112.1 109.8
Social Justice, Housing and Local Government 93.7 99.0 100.1
Finance and Economy 114.9 106.7 115.2
Education and Skills 43.6 47.1 48.9
Justice and Veterans 28.0 32.1 34.3
Net Zero, Energy and Transport 33.4 42.9 48.6
Rural Affairs and Islands 162.5 179.9 189.2
Constitution, External Affairs and Culture 20.8 22.4 21.0
Deputy First Minister and Covid Recovery 24.9 26.8 29.0
607.0 669.1 696.1

1. The 2021-22 operating costs budget has been re-stated, mainly to address an inconsistency with the Finance and Economy chapter presentation and to reflect baseline transfers.

2. The 2022-23 operating costs budget has been re-stated, to reflect baseline transfers.



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