Scottish Budget announcement: When is the Scottish Budget? Why has Scottish Budget been delayed and what can we expect?

John Swinney is to outline the Scottish government's tax and spending plans for the next year with the Scottish Budget for 2023 amid the cost of living crisis.

The Scottish Government’s budget for the next financial year will be set out on Thursday afternoon, as inflation and high energy prices squeeze public finances.

In the past, the budget has been subject to intensive negotiations with other parties to secure the required votes to pass, but with the agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens, the budget can be passed without opposition party support.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the Scottish Budget.

Everything you need to know ahead of the Scottish Budget.Everything you need to know ahead of the Scottish Budget.
Everything you need to know ahead of the Scottish Budget.

What can we expect?

John Swinney will be announcing the budget standing in for Kate Forbes, who is on maternity leave.

Swinney has said that the budget would focus on tackling child poverty, public services and moving towards net zero, while adding the Scottish Government “will use its limited powers to the maximum extent that is responsible”.

Speaking ahead of the budget announcement, the Deputy First Minister said: “Our budget goals are mutually beneficial and represent a distinctive approach to the economic challenges we face.

“The Scottish budget will take further steps to address inequality and eradicate child poverty. It will encourage a just transition to net zero, creating wealth and opportunity across the country.

A spokesman from the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government is responding to a cost of living crisis involving an increased demand on public services.

“We have allocated £3 billion in 2022-23 to mitigate the impact of the cost of living crisis, increased the game changing Scottish Child Payment to £25 per eligible child per week – a 150% increase within eight months – and attempted to secure fair pay settlements for public sector workers.

“The UK Government has provided no additional funding for this year’s pay uplifts to respond to inflation.”

Scottish Budget tax

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One area of particular interest is in tax. In the UK budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced he would freeze income tax thresholds while holding the rates remain the same, resulting in a substantial stealth tax on earners as their pay goes through these thresholds.

It is yet to be revealed if Scotland will do the same as to freeze thresholds in Scotland would be a tax break in Scotland in comparison to the rest of the UK.

Hunt also also reduced the threshold at which additional rate is paid at 45p for each extra pound earned down from £150,000, to just over £125,000. It is yet to be revealed if such steps will be followed in Scotland.

Scottish Budget announcement: How to watch the Scottish Budget?

The Scottish Budget will be available to watch on a host of news channels and will also aired on the BBC Scotland channel with a Politics Special at 2:15pm.

Scottish Parliament TV will also live stream the budget on their channel.

What time is the Scottish Budget?

The budget was expected to be delivered from around 2:30pm – however the budget has been delayed for 30 minutes to allow Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone to continue her “deliberations” after the leak of income tax changes were reported by the BBC.

What have Opposition parties said ahead of the budget?

The Scottish Conservatives called on the Scottish Government to to support households, businesses and key public services. Liz Smith also called on John Swinney to drop “vanity” spending commitments, such as the £20million earmarked for a referendum that the Supreme Court has ruled is illegal and £95m on preparing for the introduction of a National Care Service.

She said: “With Scotland’s NHS on its knees and education standards in freefall, it’s essential that the Barnett consequentials stemming from the Chancellor’s budget are passed on directly to our hospitals and schools.

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“Meanwhile the SNP is sitting on money that could help hard-pressed families and businesses now. It should immediately divert its vanity spending on a referendum that the courts have ruled out and abandon reckless plans for a costly, centralised National Care Service that everyone else can see is a bad idea.

Labour is also calling for a freeze on water charges and a £100 rebate for households, as well as help for homeowners facing repossession and action on the cost of commuting.

Finance spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “With Scotland’s finances in turmoil due to Tory and SNP incompetence, the need for a budget that delivers on the priorities of the people of Scotland has never been greater.

“Scottish Labour is clear – the priority for this budget must be tackling the cost-of-living crisis by targeting support to those most in need and ending the scandal of poverty pay across the public sector.

“Every penny of spending in this budget must deliver value for money for the people of Scotland.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats called for the budget to include investment in energy efficiency, social care and long Covid support adding: “Given that the Finance Secretary appears to have bought the support of the Greens simply by spending tens of millions on independence, some may wonder why we are even taking part in budget talks.