Scottish budget: Swinney outlines spending plans

SCOTLAND: Scotland’s finance secretary has set out his spending plans for the next two years, insisting they would boost the economy, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported on Wednesday.

John Swinney said there would be more cash for housing, despite having his overall budget cut by United Kingdom ministers.

He also said the SNP government would help mitigate against Westminster welfare reforms.

But the opposition accused him of putting Scotland “on pause” until next autumn’s independence referendum.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Swinney said his draft budget, funded by a Treasury block grant, would also pay for a national performance centre for sport.

And he said the council tax freeze would continue, along with universal benefits like free prescriptions.

Swinney told MSPs the Scottish government’s conventional capital budget was being reduced by 26.6 per cent, as UK ministers seek to reduce the nation’s spending deficit.

Speaking ahead of the independence referendum, on 18 September 2014, he said: “We have a highly skilled workforce, a long-standing reputation for innovation, a respected and recognisable brand, world-class universities and sectors and companies competing at the highest level across international markets.

“With the full decision-making powers of independence, I should, today, be able to present a budget that puts all of that economic strength to use in building a more prosperous and a more just Scotland.

“instead, as a result of Westminster’s decisions, I must today present a budget constrained by significant cuts.”

Swinney said the budget would: See affordable housing investment of more than £1.3bn over the four years to 2015-16: Secure total investment of of more than £8bn in infrastructure over the next two years: Invest £24m in 2015-16 on a national sports performance centre to support the legacy of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The finance secretary also said UK government welfare cuts would take an estimated £4.5bn out of the Scottish economy.

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