Strengthening the social contract with Scotland’s people.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney laid out “a different, more progressive path for Scotland” as he presented the Scottish Budget 2023-24.
He promised to strengthen the social contract with the people of Scotland and pledged to do everything possible to shield families from the welfare cuts and austerity policies of the UK Government.
Supporting sustainable public services through the cost of living crisis is a priority – including more than £13.7 billion for NHS boards and £2 billion to establish and improve primary healthcare services in communities, as well as £1.7 billion for social care and integration, paving the way for the National Care Service. This record investment goes well beyond any previous commitment to pass on all consequentials to health and social care, and delivers a £1 billion uplift to the health budget.
Having already increased the unique Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week as part of a drive to eradicate child poverty, the Budget invests £428 million to uprate all other devolved benefits in April 2023 by September’s Consumer Price Index inflation level of 10.1%. It commits £20 million to extend the Fuel Insecurity Fund to provide a lifeline for households, including the most vulnerable, against rising energy prices.
There are many difficult decisions facing the Scottish Government, especially with the cost-of-living crisis. By implementing this new budget, the government is living up to its responsibilities, and is being forthright with the Scottish population.
The Scottish Government proves its wish to create a budget that would be fair and beneficial for the entirety of Scotland. In addition to these social benefits, Scottish citizens continue to enjoy free prescriptions, free higher education, and the Scottish Child Payment.
I welcome the initiatives this Budget puts in the forefront, and I believe that a progressive model of governance will work if people are asked to pay their fair share, thereby creating a fairer society for all.
Scotland’s transition to net zero is boosted with increased investment to over £366 million in delivering the Heat in Buildings Strategy in 2023-24. This will help tackle fuel poverty as part of a £1.8 billion commitment over this Parliament to improve energy efficiency and decarbonise more than a million Scottish homes by 2030.
The Budget commits £50 million to the Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray – more than double the 2022-23 allocation – to diversify the regional economy away from carbon-intensive industries and capitalise on the opportunities presented by new, green industries.
Strengthened by the agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party, the 2023-24 Scottish Budget also includes:
- around £1 billion investment in high quality early learning and childcare provision, with a further £22 million invested in holiday food provision and expanding support for school-age childcare
- £50 million for the Whole Family Wellbeing programme for preventative co-ordinated family support and a further £30 million to keep The Promise to care experienced children and young people
- £80 million capital funding to support the expansion of free school meals
- going beyond existing commitments with more than £550 million additional funding to Local Government
- £165 million additional funding for frontline justice services and to continue with transformational reforms
- a £46 million increase in resource funding to universities and colleges to ensure a highly qualified and highly skilled workforce for Scotland
– Mr Swinney
The Scottish Government, like governments all over the world, is faced with a difficult set of choices. Through this Budget we are facing up to our responsibilities while being honest with the people of Scotland about the challenges which lie ahead.
To govern is to choose and the Scottish Government has made its choice.
Within the powers available to us, we will choose a different path. A path which sees the Scottish Government commit substantial resources to protect the most vulnerable people of Scotland from the impact of decisions and policies made by the UK Government. We choose to stand firmly behind the Scottish people, investing in our public services and doing everything possible to ensure that no one is left behind.
This Budget strengthens the social contract between the Scottish Government and every citizen of Scotland for the wider benefit of society. This social contract means that people in Scotland continue to enjoy many benefits not available throughout the UK – including free prescriptions, free access to higher education and the Scottish Child Payment.
Because we know this progressive model works, we choose the path where people are asked to pay their fair share, in the knowledge that in so doing they help to create the fairer society in which we all want to live.
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