Scottish Budget: More UK Government cash could be on the way, says Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes has hinted at the potential of additional funding for the Scottish Budget from the UK Government in coming weeks as MSPs approved an additional £120 million for local authorities.

The Scottish finance secretary, appearing in front of Holyrood’s finance committee on Tuesday for stage two of the Budget process, said additional certainty from the UK Government’s plans around consequentials had allowed the additional funding to be committed.

Councils across Scotland had complained the budget represented a £371m real-terms cut to their funding, prompting demands from opposition for more funding to local authorities.

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This additional £120m, announced last week, is the result of assurances from the UK Government that additional consequentials of £440m will not have to be paid back by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government's budget has been approved by Holyrood's finance committee.

The finance secretary said this had given her more flexibility within the Budget to find the additional cash, which she said was equivalent to a 4 per cent increase in council tax.

Ms Forbes also said her Budget represented the fiscal reality of December 9, 2021, when it was presented to Parliament, and discussions with the UK Government had changed how much money might be available.

The senior SNP figure indicated there could be more consequentials from the UK Government on the way when the supplementary estimates procedure – where the UK Government finalises its budget for the year and confirms any additional consequentials for Scotland – is completed.

Ms Forbes said: "There might be additional funding, the quantum of I cannot confirm until the UK Government confirms that to me.

"What I’m trying to do is give the Parliament as much information as possible while stressing that these positions have not been finalised yet by the UK Government and will be done in a very public fashion when supplementary estimates are confirmed.

"Normally one in my shoes would wait until that position is formally announced by the UK Government, but I am conscious that local government has decisions to make and I’m also conscious that we’ve got a Budget process here.

"As always in these decisions, there’s an element of risk where I’m conscious of a bit more flexibility, conscious of new information emerging, and ultimately I will have to manage the Budget in advance of that formalised position.”

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