The Scottish budget fight begins

John Swinney delivers his budget statement Finance Secretary John Swinney delivers his budget statement to MSPs

It was never going to be easy. John Swinney was coping with a financial envelope from the UK Government which is decidedly slimmer than in the past - with particular cuts in capital spending.

On the day, in the chamber, he performed well: in part, because he had new thinking to impart.

Rather than simply handing out the sweeties - in smaller bundles - he outlined a new approach to shaping Scotland's economy in tight times including a shift from revenue to capital.

As billed here, a flurry of acronyms. NPD, TIF and the rest.

All adding up to innovative ways of prising productive investment and endeavour from the private and third sectors, in order to bolster the economy.

Of course, it's tough. But it's double handed.

Mr Swinney is protecting the NHS - but health service professionals warn that high cost inflation will erode that.

There is more money for universities but colleges are unhappy.

Step up rhetoric

Big retailers are upset over the restoration of a tax on large shops, now linked to selling alcohol and tobacco, which could raise some £30m.

There is a pay freeze in the public sector for those earning more than £21k - but an extended council tax freeze.

But the big controversy could now rest between central and local government. It is now undoubtedly farewell to the concordat, occasionally billed as historic, between Ministers and Cosla.

John Swinney is adamant that he still wants to talk, to consul, to co-operate. But councils see this budget as an imposition. Stand by for a fight.

More generally, though, Mr Swinney has political advantages on his side.

The response from his political opponents in the chamber was, relatively, modulated although they may step up the rhetoric as the details are studied and scrutiny begins.

And he has a majority. He can shape the budget to his will, albeit within overall plans laid down elsewhere.

Which, of course, is another battle entirely - and one which is the leitmotif of this parliament.

Brian Taylor Article written by Brian Taylor Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

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  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    considering Brian's long absence the response to his threads have been sparse and slow. maybe some as has been stated feel the content a bit uninspiring .having said that as my post name indicates am not shy in forwarding opinions of my own as in post # 40 which to my surprise raise no comment. may be our Arab spring has passed and nobody told me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Oh dear the CyberNat clans and the Clarkson mob are out in force.
    ady - motorways are the problem, not roads per se. Infrastructure solely designed for cars and lorries is not sustainable. The promises of hybrid vehicles, hydrogen points and battery operated vehicles are just a bit of window dressing to try and disguise the huge, black oily wound festering at the heart of the Scottish economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    So far just gripes from you. Do you have any suggestions as to
    how the economy can be improved ? Or what areas would you prefer to
    be cut to keep care for the elderly and other VITAL social sevices going ?
    It is called a budget and it is constrained by income. Any positive ideas
    or alternatives are welcome but stop wasting space on useless criticism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    the unionist "no" campaign against independence is about to start up,with a split amongst the Unionists before it starts. in the red corner, labours Jim Murphy who refuses to campaign on the same platform as the Tories. jack m,connell said the campaign should not be run by a politician, can you see the move here? SNP campaign leader MP angus robertson said independence moves ahead in the polls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    John you are right they have very real choice. education. Free places for 3 & 4 year olds. First classes now left school. Any improvement in standards? no. Any improvement in literacy? no Why are we continuing? McCrone has delivered nothing, rethink required, nothing much happening. savings to be had here. What do we get, nothing new


Comments 5 of 43


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