Scot Gov publishing budget so late scrutiny becomes almost meaningless

Patrick Harvie MSP, Finance spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today highlighted concerns by the Parliament's Finance Committee that there won't be enough opportunity for scrutiny of the Scottish Government's proposed 2017-18 Scottish Budget.

The committee, of which Mr Harvie is a member, has written to the Finance Secretary to say that it is "unacceptable" that he is not prepared to publish any scenario planning in advance of the draft budget, despite an earlier promise. The committee has also tabled a motion in Parliament calling for a debate on the issue.  

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"This is the second year in a row that the Scottish Government has published its budget so late that parliamentary scrutiny becomes almost meaningless. It’s simply not an adequate way for Holyrood to operate, especially in a period of minority government. 

"Ministers make the case that there is uncertainty – and that’s certainly true. But it doesn’t justify them making all their financial plans behind closed doors, and preventing parliamentary committees from taking the wide range of evidence we need to understand the draft budget once it’s published. For each committee to have just two meetings on the budget itself is not a meaningful process.

"The Finance Committee has also gone to great lengths to offer the Government an alternative approach, because we understand the challenges they face in looking ahead to the Chancellor’s announcement. It’s deeply regrettable that after promising to publish budget scenario plans, the Cabinet Secretary has declined to do so. I hope that he takes the opportunity of the debate we’re bringing to the Chamber to reverse that decision and open up his detailed financial plans, for a range of scenarios we may face, to the public scrutiny that’s needed."


The Finance Committee’s letter is here