As the Scottish Government's Chief Financial Officer, it is my responsibility to oversee the processes that produce the consolidated accounts for the Scottish Government. I am supported by a highly performing team of finance professionals and advise Scottish Ministers in their financial decision-making to secure the regularity, propriety and value for money of the funds provided by taxpayers to deliver devolved government in Scotland.
I am pleased to introduce these accounts for financial year 2018-19, which are an important part of the reporting and transparency arrangements on the stewardship of the whole Scottish Budget approved by the Scottish Parliament. The accounts cover the bodies within the accounting boundary as defined within the introduction, and present the financial outturn compared to the spending plans of Scottish Ministers for those elements for the financial year 2018-19 authorised by the Budget (Scotland) Act 2018. They are prepared in accordance with international financial reporting standards and related accounting guidance.
The fiscal climate has changed very significantly in recent years. New financial powers and new approaches to policy delivery, including specific interventions in the private sector, have together resulted in consolidated accounts that are both significantly more complex and wide-ranging than when the Scottish Government was first established.
The accounts are not a Ministerial document: it is the Principal Accountable Officer's responsibility to produce them and a primary purpose, as noted above, is to report on the stewardship of the sums authorised. I am pleased that the Auditor General's opinion is, once again, unqualified.
These accounts are not, however, the full picture of the fiscal activity of Scottish Ministers. The Scottish Government's financial reporting outputs continue to develop alongside increasing fiscal responsibility and also now include:
- A separate statement to Parliament that brings together the Financial Outturn of the bodies within the Scottish Administration, to report against the statutory limit authorised by the Scottish Parliament in the Budget processes. This has been extended to include the other bodies funded from the Scottish Budget. These accounts together report on the spending authorised by the Scottish Parliament in the annual Budget Act.
- The wider picture of the funding available in the Scottish Budget is available in the separate account of the Scottish Consolidated Fund at gov.scot, which sets out all the cash sums paid into and out of the Scottish Consolidated Fund. This also includes a statement on the borrowing position. A more detailed accounting of the Devolved Taxes is also available, published by Revenue Scotland, available online at revenue.scot.
- The Fiscal Framework Outturn Report is published annually and was introduced last year providing information in relation to devolved taxes, the use of borrowing powers and the operation of the Scotland Reserve.
- A further consolidated account has been developed for the 2017-18 financial year which brings together the revenue-raising and spending elements for the devolved Scottish public sector as a whole. This has been a very significant and complex undertaking because of the number and diversity of organisations within the wider consolidation boundary. It also includes differences in applied financial reporting standards that have to be integrated on consolidation. This account is with Audit Scotland and I look forward to receiving their views on how we further develop our approach to support greater transparency.
These accounts also explain the context in which these accounts sit with the National Performance Framework and provide links to additional sources of reporting and disclosure and therefore do not repeat more specific performance information that can be found in the stand-alone accounts of delivery bodies within the consolidation boundary.
I hope users of these accounts will find them to be an extensive and useful tool for information and scrutiny.
Chief Financial Officer
19 September 2019