Committee focuses on spending pressures as Government Budget under spotlight


The challenges facing the Scottish Government Budget for 2010-11 and the effects of the recession on public spending, will be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry beginning tomorrow.

The Finance Committee will hold four separate evidence sessions over the coming weeks scrutinising different aspects of the proposed 2010-11 Budget, including the knock-on effects of spending brought forward to 2009-10, the effects of the recession and the effects on the Scottish Budget of the UK Government’s recent Budget.

Committee Convener Andrew Welsh said: “Proposed Scottish Government spending faces challenges and pressures on a number of fronts in the coming months and years, not least from the serious knock-on effects of one of the worst recessions in decades.

"The Finance Committee is holding a number of evidence sessions to look at various aspects of Scottish Government spending – from the overall picture to specific areas such as public pensions and enterprise agencies, and to the effects of the recession on local authorities.

"The first evidence session comes a matter of days after the UK Government Budget announcement so the committee will also want to look at any likely effect of changes in the money coming to the Scottish Government from the Treasury.”

Details of each session, including individual witnesses and witness organisations are as follows:

Week 1 – 28 April: Issues include public-spending analysis, the practicalities of how spending works in Scotland, the scope for change, public pensions, the effect of international financial reporting standards on the budget.

Panel 1:
Jo Armstrong and John McLaren, Centre for Public Policy for Regions

Panel 2:
Stella Manzie - Scottish Government Director-General Finance
John Aldridge - former Scottish Executive Finance Director
Jenny Stewart - KPMG, former member of the Howat Review group on public spending

Panel 3:
Angela Scott, Head of CIPFA in Scotland
Caroline Gardner, Deputy Auditor General and Controller of Audit
Russell Frith, Director of Audit Strategy, Audit Scotland
Stephen Humphrey, Chief Actuary, Government Actuary’s Dept

Week 2 – 5 May: The business sector – what is happening in the Scottish economy and what is needed from the Scottish Government budget to support it; Views from economic commentators; Enterprise agencies.

Panel 1:
CBI Scotland
FSB Scotland
Scottish Chambers of Commerce
Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland

Panel 2:
Jeremy Peat, former chief economist, RBS
Alf Young, former member of FIAG

Panel 3:
Scottish Enterprise
Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Week 3 – 12 May: The effects of the recession on public bodies, the impact of efficiency savings and priorities for spending; infrastructure interests; education and skills; the voluntary sector.

Panel 1:
Local authorities
Health Boards

Panel 2: Infrastructure interests:
Transport Scotland
Scottish Water
Scottish Building Federation

Panel 3: Education/skills:
Universities Scotland
Association of Scotland’s Colleges
Skills Development Scotland

Panel 4: Voluntary sector:
SCVO (and other voluntary sector representatives)

Week 4 – 19 May: Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth

Further information

The Committee’s inquiry will address a number of key themes including:

  • the impact of the recession on public-sector budgets in Scotland for 2009-10 and future years, and the extent to which public bodies and the Scottish Government’s Budget can be used to mitigate the effects of the recession
  • the pressures and demands on the Scottish Government’s 2010-11 Budget (such as reductions to balance the capital spending brought forward and the consequences of budget cuts due to increased efficiency savings announced by the UK Government) and the likely effects of these pressures on different areas of public spending
  • the likely implications of public spending patterns for the Scottish Government’s Budget in the longer term
  • the longer term demands or cost pressures on different public service areas and budgets (such as spending which cannot be changed, changes in demographics or patterns of service use, or known major project commitments) and the priority areas for spending in future budgets, including what flexibility exists in responding to these pressures.

Further details on the inquiry can be found on the Committee’s web page on the strategic scrutiny of the Scottish Government's Budget.


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