Holyrood approves new budget process

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Holyrood has backed what has been described as the biggest overhaul of its budget process since devolution.

MSPs voted through changes which mean the Scottish Government will for the first time have to set out a Medium Term Financial Strategy later in May.

Bruce Crawford MSP, covener of Holyrood's Finance Committee. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Bruce Crawford MSP, covener of Holyrood's Finance Committee. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

The change comes after powers over income tax and some benefits were devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Bruce Crawford, convener of Holyrood’s Finance Committee, said: “For Parliament’s oversight of tax-raising and spending plans to be really effective there needs to be a shift from year to year scrutiny to a longer-term perspective.

“To that end, the Scottish Government will later this month set out its first-ever Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) - its broad financial plans and projections for the next five years.

“The new process will also see a move towards multi-year budgets that will help public bodies to develop medium-term priorities and to plan more effectively for future challenges.

“Importantly, parliamentary scrutiny will include a greater focus on outcomes rather than spending. This will enable MSPs to better determine whether policy objectives have been met and public spending has been effective.”

He added: “This evening’s endorsement of Holyrood’s new scrutiny arrangement marks the start of a cultural change and the biggest overhaul of the Parliament’s budget process since the start of devolution.”

As well as producing a Medium Term Finance Strategy every spring, the Government will also have to publish a Fiscal Framework Outturn Report each autumn, setting out data for Scottish tax revenues.