Derek Mackay slams Westminster's ‘disregard for devolution’ as he announces Feb 6 budget date

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Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is to publish his Scottish budget on February 6 - a month before the UK Budget which sets out Scotland's funding.

The unusual move is needed to ensure MSPs can properly scrutinise his spending plans for 2020/21 after it was announced that the UK Budget would take place on March 11.

Derek Mackay will publish his budget on February 6

Derek Mackay will publish his budget on February 6

Chancellor Sajid Javid provoked an angry response north of the border last week over the date, about three months behind the usual schedule, which left Scotland with a race against time to agree spending plans before the April 1 deadline before the start of the new financial year.

“The UK Government’s approach to the Scottish Budget has been completely unacceptable and has shown a disregard for devolution and a lack of fiscal responsibility," Mr Mackay said today.

“The timing of the UK Budget made it impossible for us to publish our own budget after the UK Government’s without drastically restricting the time for parliamentary scrutiny.

“In these exceptional circumstances, created by the UK Government, it is vital we give local authorities and public services clarity on their budgets. That is why we have made the decision to publish our budget in February which will allow local authorities to set their budgets and council tax before the legal deadline of 11 March."

Although a delay was expected as a result of the election, SNP ministers cannot understand why the UK budget was left as late as mid-March.

“I look forward to publishing a budget that will help tackle the global climate emergency, reduce child poverty and boost the economy.

“We will work closely with the Scottish Parliament to agree a timetable for the Budget Bill to allow for maximum scrutiny while ensuring certainty for Scotland’s vital public services.”