Balancing the Budget

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay had the unenviable task today of publishing his Budget Bill for 2017/18. Having already failed to get his draft budget approved by MSPs at a vote in the chamber earlier in the week, Mr Mackay has to attempt to persuade one of the opposition parties, which already voted against it, to now vote for it. Given the SNP governs as a minority administration, this is no mean feat.

As demonstrated by the vote, all of the opposition parties have issues with it which will need to be in some part resolved before it will progress. A deal with either the Scottish Liberal Democrats or the Scottish Greens looks the most likely option for the Budget Bill to proceed.

Against a backdrop of council leaders across Scotland calling for a fairer settlement and, therefore, more funds to be distributed their way, opposition parties have joined with COSLA in adding to the pressure on Mackay and the SNP to revisit their proposals. One council leader commenting that, having asked for agreement on a settlement before the Bill had been presented, Mackay was “either deluded or arrogant.”

Given that the SNP has no working majority at Holyrood, it will take some major concessions to one of the opposition parties to get the Budget Bill through. Watch this space.